The United States on Monday reiterated its opposition to new Israeli settlement activity on West Bank land including in the site known as "E1," which it said could be especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"The United States opposes all unilateral actions, including West Bank settlement activity and housing construction in East Jerusalem, as they complicate efforts to resume direct, bilateral negotiations," State Department spokeman Mark Toner said in a statement.
"This includes building in the E-1 area as this area is particularly sensitive and construction there would be especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution."
Israel indicated in Monday it had no plan to backtrack on a settlement expansion plan that has drawn strong international condemnation and includes "preliminary zoning and planning work" for settler housing in the so-called "E1" zone east of Jerusalem. "We have made clear to the Israeli government that such action is contrary to U.S. policy," Toner said in his statement, which urged both Israel and the Palestinians to cease unilateral actions and take steps to return to direct negotiations.
Israel announced plans to build 3,000 more homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Friday, a day after the U.N. General Assembly granted de facto recognition to Palestinian statehood over Israeli and U.S. objections.
Reporting By Andrew Quinn; Editing by Mohammad Zargham