The United States called on Israel Monday to "reconsider" a decision to allow 3,000 more Jewish homes in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
"We urge Israeli leaders to reconsider these unilateral decisions and exercise restraint as these actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
"We reiterate our long-standing opposition to Israeli settlement activity and East Jerusalem construction," he added.
The Cabinet approved construction of many of the housing units in the disputed 5 km (3 mi) long area between Jerusalem and the suburb of Maale Adumim known as “E1”.
The State Department warned in an earlier statement that the E1 area "is particularly sensitive and construction there would be especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the decision last Friday, following the decision of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday to upgrade the status of the Palestinian Authority to non-member observer state, thus granting it de facto status as a sovereign state based on its own territorial claims and enabling it to circumvent final status negotiations with Israel.
The comments come amid mounting international pressure as both France and Britain summoned the Israeli ambassadors in their countries on Monday, expressing disapproval over the housing plans and threatening to recall their own ambassadors from Jewish State. Sweden and Denmark joined the condemnations, summoning the Israeli ambassadors to their respective capitals for meetings.
Russia also urged Israel to reconsider the plans, saying building new homes would undermine any chance for direct peace talks, omitting any mention of the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to entirely evade such talks.
Israel has affirmed that it will not cave into international pressure and halt plans to build the new homes, a source in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office announced Monday.
"We continue to insist on our vital interests, even under international pressure,” the source said. “There will be no change in the decision that has been made.”