US criticises Israel on new settlement plan

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US criticises Israel on new settlement plan

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Hours after the UN voted overwhelmingly to grant the Palestinians de-facto statehood, Israel has authorised the building of thousands of new settlement homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

It is reported the decision was taken on Thursday, as soon as it became clear the vote would not go Israel’s way. In Washington, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman defended the move.

“We think it’s our right to define our Capital and to decide about construction. You must understand that this construction activity in the settlements today is part of our security view,” Lieberman said.

But the US, one of eight countries to vote alongside Israel at the UN, described the latest expansion plan as counterproductive to the resumption of direct peace talks.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: ‘‘President Abbas took a step in the wrong direction this week. We opposed his resolution but we also need to see that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank still offers the most compelling alternative to rockets and permanent resistance. So particularly in light of today’s announcement let me reiterate that this administration, like previous administrations, has been very clear with Israel: that these activities setback the cause of a negotiated peace.’‘

In addition to expanding in the occupied territories, the prospect of building in an area know E1, which lies near Jerusalem would, say some analysts, signal the end of the two state-solution.