Israeli authorities have offered to help Palestinians in their struggle to build homes in the occupied West Bank, an official said Sunday.
The announcement comes after the government announced on Saturday it was building 2,000 homes, including 1,500 in settlements, in the West Bank for Palestinians who want to rebuild.
The move is a step toward easing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has killed nearly 200 Israelis and Palestinians since it erupted in October 2015.
“I am delighted that the government of Israel is willing to take a position in this direction,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, the head of the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip, said in a statement on Sunday.
“I hope that this will lead to the creation of a safe zone in the Occupied West Bank.”
Abed Rabdo, who is also the Palestinian president, said the Palestinians have made “an extraordinary contribution” to building homes and establishing new infrastructure.
“The Palestinian Authority has been building thousands of housing units in the Holy City, in Ramallah and in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc,” he said.
“This is a positive step that is being taken to create a better future for Palestinians living in the territories, as well as for the Israeli population.”
The new homes will be built in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, located in the northern part of the Westbank, which was captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war.
The area has seen an exodus of Palestinians to the West bank.
Israel says the area was under Palestinian control until 1967, but Palestinians say Israel is illegally holding land in the area.
Israel has made a series of moves since then to build settlements in the disputed area.
The government has already approved plans for 1,600 homes in some areas in the Jordan Valley, while other plans have been shelved.
The settlements, which have the backing of both the United States and the European Union, are considered illegal under international law and have no legal status in Israel.
Israel has been moving its military to the Jordan to bolster security in the areas.