JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel will approve construction of West Bank settlement homes before it considers a freeze sought by Washington, a top government official said on Friday, sparking worldwide outrage. The plan is also certain to anger the US administration, which has pushed for a freeze of Jewish settlements in an effort to restart the stalled Middle East peace process. In the next days the prime minister will approve construction starts and then he might consider a freeze for a limited time under certain conditions, the official told AFP, asking not to be identified. He confirmed a report in the Jerusalem Post saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would consider a moratorium on settlement construction for a few months after the green light is given to build hundreds of new homes in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and top negotiator Saeb Erakat sharply denounced the move. That is not acceptable, Abbas said after talks in Paris with President Nicolas Sarkozy. We want a freeze on settlement and the launch of negotiations on the final phase of it. Erakat went further, saying, The only thing suspended by this announcement will be the peace process. France also expressed its objection saying such a move was contrary to Israels commitments in the Middle East peace process. Our position is without any ambiguity. We condemn it, Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier told reporters in Paris. It is evidently totally contrary to the spirit of the peace process and Israeli engagements and to the dynamic of the peace process, he added. Israeli media reports said work on 2,500 housing units already under way would continue as part of the plan widely seen as an attempt to appease far right-wing members of Netanyahus hawkish Likud party. Erakat insisted Israel had already responded with total defiance to US calls for a freeze. The White House also expressed regret at Israeli plans to build new settler homes before considering a freeze, calling the move counterproductive to efforts to launch peace negotiations. As the President (Barack Obama) has said before, the US does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge that it stop. We are working to create a climate in which negotiations can take place, and such actions make it harder to create such a climate, Gibbs said, calling the activity inconsistent with Israels commitment under a long-standing peace plan. The EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana also joined world leaders in denouncing Israel, calling on the Jewish state to halt all building work at Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The position of the European Union is well known. All settlement activities must stop, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters on the margins of an EU foreign ministers meeting in Stockholm. Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes struck the Gaza Strip early on Friday near the southern city of Khan Yunis, Palestinian and Israeli officials said. Palestinian security officials confirmed the air strike, adding that no one was injured.