Israel said Monday that it intends to construct some 700 new apartments in east Jerusalem, drawing tough criticism from both the Palestinians and the United States. Israel's Housing Ministry said it had approved a total of 692 new apartments in three existing Jewish neighborhoods already inhabited by tens of thousands of people.
"We condemn this Israeli policy of continuing settlement activities, and we hope this will be an eye opener for the U.S. administration and other members" of the international community, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told the AP.
An Israeli official said the government had informed Washington about the latest planned construction.
However, a U.S. official said the construction was another blow to peace efforts. "We feel that unilateral actions make it harder for people to get back together at the table, and that's what our goals are," said the official. "We also have mentioned in the past ... that we consider all the Israeli settlements to be beyond the pale of what we wish to see going on, and are not helpful, again, to getting the two sides back to the table," he said.