Interior Minister Eli Yishai has given final authorization to build 1,600 apartments in East Jerusalem, and will approve 2,700 more in the next few days.

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Ministry spokesman Roi Lachmanovich said Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office knew the construction plans in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in East Jerusalem were moving ahead.

Israeli construction in East Jerusalem will also likely hurt Washington's efforts to dissuade the Palestinians from seeking statehood at the United Nations next month.

The 1,600 apartments had caused a diplomatic rift between Israel and the U.S .last year when they won an earlier approval from the ministry during a visit to Israel by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.