The Trump administration is acting with “dismay” and issuing “strong condemnation” of Israel’s announcement that it had approved the construction of 741 new homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a senior State Department official said on Sunday.
The decision follows a long-running spat between Israel and the U.S. administration over what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Donald Trump viewed as Israel’s unwillingness to return to the two-state solution to its long-running conflict with the Palestinians.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates the great lengths that the government of Israel is willing to go to advance settlements in violation of international law,” the State Department official told reporters on a conference call.
“We are concerned that this announcement will only serve to further complicate efforts to resume direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, and thus the only proper solution,” the official said.
Last week, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that Washington would take “appropriate action” after the Israel Housing Ministry moved ahead with plans to build thousands of new units in two East Jerusalem settlements.
The announcement of an extension of East Jerusalem settlements by the Israel Housing Ministry came on Sunday hours after the Palestinians on Saturday unexpectedly urged the international community to freeze all U.S. aid to Israel over the West Bank plans.
Tensions between Israel and the U.S. have risen amid reports that senior White House adviser Jared Kushner is pushing for a shift in U.S. policy to allow Israel to annex large chunks of the West Bank while retaining other parts under Israeli rule.
The U.S. official said the United States would continue to call on Israel to refrain from any action that would negatively affect the peace process.
(h/t Al Jazeera)
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