The United States has officially called on Israel to reverse its decision to appropriate 988 acres of land near Bethlehem in the West Bank, first declared on Sunday by the military as "state land."

"We are deeply concerned about the declaration of a large area as 'state land' to be used for expanded settlement building," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity. We call on the Government of Israel to reverse this decision."

Psaki said the State Department is also very concerned by reports that announcements of new settlement activity in East Jerusalem are pending. The continued planning and construction, she said, is "contrary to Israel's stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians."

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