A Day After Palestine's UN Upgrade |

U.S. Condemns Israel's Settlement Expansion Plan in Jerusalem, West Bank

White House says decision to build 3,000 new homes in settlements is 'counterproductive'; Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat condemns move, says Israel is 'defying the whole international community.'

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The U.S on Friday condemned the Israeli decision to build 3,000 new homes in the settlements, which came as a response to the UN vote to upgrade Palestine's status to a non-member observer state.

"These actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations or achieve a two-state solution," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said. "We reiterate our longstanding opposition to settlement activity and East Jerusalem construction and announcements."

"Direct negotiations remain our goal and we encourage all parties to take steps to make that goal easier to achieve," the White House spokesman said.

Earlier Friday, a senior diplomatic source told Haaretz that Netanyahu ordered 3,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. According to the source, Israel also plans to advance long-frozen plans for the E1 area, which covers an area that links the city of Jerusalem with the settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.

If built, the controversial plan would prevent territorial contiguity between the northern and southern West Bank, making it difficult for a future Palestinian state to function.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also condemned the Israeli announcement, saying Israel was "defying the whole international community and insisting on destroying the two-state solution." He said the Palestinian leadership was studying its options.

In a historic session of the United Nations in New York Thursday, exactly 65 years after passing the Partition Plan for Palestine, the General Assembly voted by a huge majority to recognize Palestine within the 1967 borders as a non-member state with observer status in the organization. Some 138 countries voted in favor of the resolution, 41 abstained and 9 voted against: Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, U.S., Panama, The Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, and Micronesia.

Following the vote, U.S. UN envoy Susan Rice said the resolution does not establish Palestine as state, that it prejudges the outcome of negotiations, and ignores questions of security.

Goats grazing by Maale Adumim near Jerusalem, December 1, 2012.Credit: Reuters
If the State of Israel was serious about protecting private property in the West Bank, it would have to deploy force at a level not shy of the force it would need to evacuate most of its settlements.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
U.S. President Barack Obama. Must overcome his difficulties with Netanyahu to face the Iranian threat.Credit: Bloomberg

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