The United States said it was "deeply disappointed" on Monday by Israel's announcement of a plan to build over 1,000 new Jewish homes beyond the Green Line in Jerusalem.
"We were deeply disappointed by the announcement of advance planning for new housing units in sensitive areas of East Jerusalem. It is counter-productive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties," said U.S. State Department Spokesman Philip J. Crowley.
Israel's announcement of its program which will allow some 1,300 new housing units to be built beyond the Green Line could prove to be an embarrassment to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently in the United States.
"We have long urged both parties to avoid actions which could undermine trust, including in Jerusalem, and will continue to work to resume direct negotiations to address this and other final-status issues," Crowley said.
Ruth Yosef, who chairs the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee, published over the weekend details of a program that will allow 930 housing units to be built in the Har Homa C area, with another 48 units in Har Homa B. An additional 320 units are planned for Ramot, also beyond the Green Line.
The pro-Israel lobby J Street also issued a statement criticizing the new building permits, saying that "J Street is profoundly disappointed that the Israeli government has chosen this moment to announce yet another large round of construction in East Jerusalem."
The American-Jewish lobby urged Israel to delay any further construction over the Green Line "until negotiations over the border have been finalized, in the interest of its long-term security and survival as a democracy and as the homeland of the Jewish people."
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