Following Israel’s approval of the construction of 1,500 new housing units in Ramat Shlomo, an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in the northern part of Jerusalem beyond the Green Line, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the U.S. is “deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action.”
The Jewish state’s “repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace,” Nuland told reporters.
“Israel’s leaders continually say they support a path toward a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk,” she said.
However, despite Nuland’s remarks, the U.S. stopped short of an official condemnation of Israel’s construction plans in the United Nations Security Council, a step the Palestinians said would be taken by all of the council’s other members. The Palestinians sought a Security Council “presidential statement”—issued when the council cannot reach a consensus or when a permanent council member such as the U.S. exercises veto power for a resolution—on Israeli construction, but Nuland said the U.S. blocked such Palestinian action.
“I don’t think we think that is a helpful step at this point,” Nuland said of the Palestinians’ Security Council plans.
Nuland added that the U.S. is calling on both Israel and the Palestinians “to cease any kinds of counterproductive, unilateral action and take concrete steps to return to direct negotiations.” On Nov. 29, the Palestinians made a unilateral move by obtaining nonmember observer state status at the UN, breaking their contractual obligations under the 1993 Oslo Accords of reaching a final status agreement with Israel through negotiations.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud), regarding the latest Israeli construction plans, on Tuesday said the decision to build in Jerusalem was “not negotiable.”
“Israel refuses to accept the fact that mere weeks after rockets were fired from Gaza into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, there are still those who see Israel’s decision to hold on to strategic territory surrounding Jerusalem, and to build within its capital, as the biggest obstacle standing in the way of peace,” Rivlin wrote in a New Year’s message to heads of parliaments around the world.