The White House on Friday condemned Israel’s decision to build 3,000 new homes in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as “counterproductive” and said it would make resuming peace talks harder.
“We reiterate our longstanding opposition to settlements and east Jerusalem construction and announcements. We believe these actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations or (to) achieve a two state solution,” said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, according to AFP.
“Direct negotiations remain our goal and we encourage all parties to take steps to make that easier to achieve,” Vietor added.
Earlier on Friday, the forum of nine senior ministers approved the construction of 3,000 housing units in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
In addition, the nine ministers decided to promote the building of thousands of housing units in Jerusalem and in the so-called ‘settlement blocs’, including the area known as E1 and which connects Jerusalem and Maale Adumim.
The decision came less than 24 hours after the United Nations voted to recognize the Palestinian Authority as a non-member observer state.
A senior diplomatic source said that “continued construction is done according to Israel’s strategic interests.” The source added that additional measures to respond to the PA’s unilateral move are currently being considered.
PA officials reacted with anger to the Israeli decision.
“It is an act of Israeli aggression against a state, and the world needs to take up its responsibilities,” PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said. “What was announced today is just part of a comprehensive settlement plan.”
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas also denounced the Israeli decision and called on Friday for a halt to construction of Jewish homes and a return to peace talks with Israel.
“I’ve said a thousand times that we want to resume negotiations and we are ready to do it,” Abbas told reporters in New York, ignoring the fact that his statehood bid is proof that the PA wants statehood without making peace with Israel.
“We are not setting any condition but there are at least 15 UN resolutions which consider settlement activity as illegal and an obstacle to peace which must be removed,” he said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned on Thursday night, as the UN approved the PA resolution, that Israel would respond in the manner it would find appropriate.
“By going to the UN, the Palestinians have violated the agreements with Israel and Israel will act accordingly,” said a statement by Netanyahu’s office.
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