The White House condemned Israel’s decision to build more than 3,000 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
“We reiterate our longstanding opposition to settlements and East Jerusalem construction and announcements,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
“We believe these actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations or achieve a two state solution. Direct negotiations remain our goal and we encourage all parties to take steps to make that easier to achieve,” Vietor said.
Israeli officials announced Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had approved the construction of thousands of new housing units, and were laying the groundwork for more.
The settlements – considered by some as illegal under international law – are a key sticking point in any future negotiations between Israel and a Palestinian state.
Israel’s move comes just one day after Palestinians pushed for and won recognition as a nonmember observer state at the United Nations – in defiance of the U.S. and Israel’s wishes.
The settlements caused a diplomatic row in 2009 between President Obama and Netanyahu, when Obama stunned Netanyahu by calling for a settlement freeze with the prime minister by his side.