The Defense Ministry on Wednesday approved the construction of 37 new apartments in the settlement of Karnei Shomron, home to 6,600 people. It announced the approval on the same day that US President Barack Obama told the United Nations that his country "does not accept the legitimacy of West Bank settlements." The United States and the international community in recent months have increased pressure on Israel to freeze settlement activity. Israel has refused to accede to that demand, saying allows some 2,500 units in various stages of construction to be completed. It also said it would approve some 500 new units before it placed a moratorium on new building permits. Earlier this month it approved 455 of those units, including 149 apartments in Har Gilo, 12 in Alon Shvut, 89 in Ma'aleh Adumim, 84 in Modi'in Illit, 76 in Givat Ze'ev, 25 in Kedar and 20 in Maskiot. These 37 homes are part of that same package of 500 new units, said a Defense Ministry spokeswoman. When the initial announcement of 455 units was made, the ministry said that there would be some additional small approvals, she said. The Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip has said that approvals were essentially old projects, which had been frozen for lack of additional permits. Karnei Shomron Council Chairman Herzl Ben-Ari said that the 37 units had first been approved for construction in 1999. The contractor halted the project for private reasons, said Ben-Ari. When the contractor recently wanted to resume the project, he was told that he no longer had the authorization to do so, said Ben-Ari. Karnei Shomron last received building permits in 2006, when a 42-unit project was approved. Located nine kilometers beyond the Green Line, but within the boundaries of the security barrier, Karnei Shomron has not experienced the same growth rate as other settlements. In 2008, the Karnei Shomron population grew by 1.9 percent, while the settler population as a whole experienced 4.9% hike. Ben-Ari blamed the lack of growth in his settlement on the lack of housing. As a result, he said, the more than 100 young people who marry there every year cannot find a home in the town they grew up in.