... we're concerned about the actions that have happened in the last 24 hours and the continued acceleration... "
Washington (ANTARA News) - The United States Tuesday slammed plans being mulled by Israel to build nearly 5,000 new settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem, saying it would run counter to the cause of peace.

"We are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in her strongest remarks in recent days on the settlement issue.

"Israel's leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk."

Jerusalem municipal and district committees will consider four projects this week in the Givat HaMatos and Gilo neighborhoods, said non-governmental groups Peace Now and Terrestrial Jerusalem, which track settlement construction.

The projects are being discussed after Israel on Monday gave the green light for the construction of 1,500 homes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, in a move which has already drawn sharp US criticism.

The other settlement plans being weighed this week are all in the southern sector of the city, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Nuland said the criticism of Israel reflects the fact that "we're concerned about the actions that have happened in the last 24 hours and the continued acceleration."

"We are not in a good cycle here. We need to break this cycle, end the provocative actions and get these parties back to the table," she said of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks which have been stalled for two years.

"It is not easy; it has not been easy for quite some time. We can`t want this more than the parties themselves want it," she warned.

Jerusalem is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as the capital of a future state, and is one of the core issues to be settled in the peace talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday reiterated Israel`s right to increase Jewish presence in all parts of "united" Jerusalem, a euphemism for the city including its eastern sector.

"Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Israel and we will continue to build in it," he said in remarks relayed by his office.

Israel captured east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

The Palestinians have refused to return to the talks until Israel calls a freeze on all settlement building.


Editor: Ade P Marboen
Copyright © ANTARA 2012