Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to expedite construction of 1,060 housing units in east Jerusalem is incompatible with peace, the Obama administration warned on Monday, outlining “unequivocal opposition” to the move.
“If Israel wants to live in a peaceful society, they need to take steps that will reduce tensions,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a briefing with journalists.
“Moving forward with this sort of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace.”
The US had not yet confirmed reports of the approval, but the administration was “certainly deeply concerned” by reports that Netanyahu had chosen to proceed, Psaki said.
“We’re engaging at the highest levels from our embassy on the ground to get more information,” she said.
The homes would be built beyond the pre-1967 Green Line. Netanyahu also signed off on infrastructure projects in the West Bank, including road renovations.
Psaki said that the defense relationship between Jerusalem and Washington remained strong, despite a tense visit last week from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, during which he was denied meetings with senior officials at the State Department and the White House.
Asked what consequences there might be for the Israeli government, or for the US-Israel relationship more broadly, should construction proceed, Psaki added: “Obviously, the international community is watching closely what they do.”
The Palestinian Authority on Monday condemned Israeli plans to build apartments in Jerusalem.
Israel’s plans “amount to evidence of an intent to further commit crimes defined by and punishable under international law,” Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said.
Erekat called on the international community to take “decisive action in order to save the two-state solution from the colonial expansionism of the State of Israel.”
He also called on the international community to recognize a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines by supporting the Palestinians’ UN Security Council bid to impose a deadline to end the Israeli “occupation.”
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the PA Presidency, also condemned the plan to build apartments in Jerusalem as “unacceptable and dangerous.”
Israel’s “dangerous violations” make it imperative for the Palestinians to go to the Security Council soon to seek a resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal, Abu Rudaineh said.
He urged the US administration to intervene with Israel to avoid an “earthquake” in the region.