U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told the Palestinians that they deserve a "viable" independent state. Biden's comments on Wednesday came a day after Israel announced plans to build 1,600 new homes in occupied east Jerusalem.
At a news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Biden reiterated his condemnation of Israel's plan and urged both sides to refrain from actions that could "inflame" tensions.
Earlier, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the Israeli announcement was "damaging" and posed a "great challenge" to restarting peace talks. According to the AP, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the new construction would be the main item on the Abbas-Biden agenda. "I think the Israeli government is making it almost impossible for us, the Americans and the international community, to take a one centimeter step in the direction of reviving the peace process," Erekat said.