The United States has launched a rare verbal attack on Israel over its plan to build more than 1,600 homes on occupied land.
In a statement issued after he arrived 90 minutes late for dinner with the Israeli President, the US Vice President Joe Biden condemned the move, saying it “undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I’ve had here in Israel.”
Israel announced the new settlements would go up in Ramat Shlomo, a part of East Jerusalem Palestinians claim for a future capital.
The Palestinian Authority’s spokesman said the timing showed peace was not a priority for Israel.
“The proposal is another indicator that the priority for the Israeli government is to consolidate the illegal occupation,” said Ghassan Khatib.
Israel’s refusal to stop settlement building has been a major obstacle to a resumption of the talks. It also puts Biden in an uncomfortable position ahead of discussions with Palestinian leaders.