The United States on Wednesday voiced concern about what it described as a significant acceleration of Israeli settlement activity in Palestinian territories and said a policy of retroactively approving unauthorized settlements allow the Israeli government to expand such activity in a "potentially unlimited way."
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"We are deeply concerned by the government's announcement to advance plans for these settlement units in the West Bank," U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a news briefing.
Kirby's comments came following the Israeli approval of the construction of hundreds of new housing units in West bank settlements and the retroactive legalization of dozens more.
The Civil Administration's High Planning Committee approved the building of 234 homes in Elkana, which are designated by the plan as a nursing home, 31 homes in Beit Arye, and 20 homes in Givat Ze'ev. The committee has also legalized 178 housing units which were built in Beit Arye the 1980s.
The construction in Elkana still requires objections to be heard before a final approval is granted.
"We are particularly troubled by the policy of retroactively approving unauthorized settlement units and outposts that are themselves illegal under Israeli law. These policies have effectively given the Israeli government a green light for the pervasive advancement of settlement activity in a new and potentially unlimited way."
The State Department statement echoed remarks from the White House.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the approvals a "significant expansion of settlement activity" and said the development "poses a serious and growing threat to the viability of a two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.