Israel seeks builders for West Bank settler homes

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JERUSALEM (AP) -- A government official says Israel is seeking builders to erect 336 apartments in Jewish West Bank settlements.

The bids went out Monday even as international leaders are trying to get Israelis and Palestinians back to peace talks after months of deadlock over settlements.

Ariel Rosenberg, the spokesman for the Ministry of Construction and Housing, says developers will compete to build 294 apartments in Betar Illit and 42 apartments in Karnei Shomron.

Rosenberg estimated Monday that construction would begin within a year and be completed in about three years.

Jewish settlement construction has stymied peacemaking for months. The Palestinians say they won't negotiate while Israel builds on lands they want for a future state. Israel rejects that demand.