U.S. 'Deeply Disappointed' by Israel Settler Homes Plan
The United States said Tuesday it was disappointed by Israel's announced plans to build new homes for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem.
"We are deeply disappointed," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, adding the U.S. considered the move "counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties."
"We have long urged both parties to avoid actions which could undermine trust, including in Jerusalem, and we'll continue to work with the parties to try to resume direct negotiations," she added.
The U.S. reaction came hours after Israel approved a plan to build 1,100 new homes in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, a move Palestinians slammed as a rejection of a proposal by the so called Quartet -- the United Nations, EU, United States and Russia -- for new peace talks.
The project's passage on Tuesday is just one stage of a lengthy, multi-year approvals process for the planned expansion of the Gilo neighborhood, which lies in Jerusalem's south.
"With this, Israel is responding to the Quartet's statement with 1,100 'Nos,'" Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told Agence France Presse, shortly after the approval was made public.
The Quartet proposed a resumption of talks after the Palestinian formally requested admission to the United Nations as a full member state, a step vehemently opposed by Israel and its closest ally, the United States.
Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians broke off a year ago following Israel's refusal to extend a moratorium on construction of settlement housing in the West Bank.