WASHINGTON — The United States said Wednesday that Israel’s settlement activity was not “constructive” for Middle East peace after a committee approved a plan for 500 new homes in the northern West Bank.
An Israeli committee legalized the outpost of Shvut Rachel, which had been unauthorized. Officials said the committee gave legal status to around 195 existing homes and gave the go-ahead for some 500 new ones.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said he was not familiar with the latest approval of settlements but reiterated that the United States opposes such moves.
“We don’t believe it’s in any way constructive to getting both sides back to the negotiating table,” Toner told reporters.
“We want to see clearly a comprehensive settlement that delineates borders and resolves many of these issues,” Toner said.
The Palestinian Authority and Israeli peace activists condemned the latest settlement approval, saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is setting back the already slow diplomacy aimed at a two-state solution.
Israel considers settlement outposts built without government approval to be illegal and often sends security personnel to demolish them, although in recent months the government has announced its intention to retroactively legalize a number of them.
More than 310,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and the number is constantly growing.
Another 200,000 live in a dozen settlement neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in 1967 and annexed in a move never recognized by the international community.