World Criticizes Israel Over New Construction
It was the world vs. Israel on Monday, as the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations chose to slam the Jewish State over its plans to build new homes in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
"These announcements that you're referring to certainly come at a particularly sensitive time," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was quoted by AFP as having told reporters in Washington.
"We continue to engage with the Israeli government to make our serious concerns known," she said.
"Our policy has not changed," she added. "We don't accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity."
Russia described the Israeli move as "a counterproductive step that complicates the atmosphere of the talks," referring to the newly restarted peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
A spokesman for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also re-stated his long-standing opposition to continued Israeli construction.
"Settlements in the occupied territories are illegal, they have been and they continue to be illegal," Eduardo del Buey said, according to AFP.
Earlier on Monday, the European Union also denounced the proposal for construction in Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem beyond the 1949 Armistice Line.
The EU insisted that Israel and the Palestinian Authority should "avoid any actions which would halt negotiations.”
A spokesman for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected the criticism and insisted that the new units were "in areas that will remain part of Israel in any possible future peace agreement."
"It changes nothing," Mark Regev added, according to AFP.
Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) declared on Sunday that Israel will continue to build new homes in Jerusalem.
"Talks are taking place, but the main question is what they are talking about,” he said. “In the mean time, we will carry out our duty, which is to build. I do not see peace but rather an audacious Arab Spring, though I remain hopeful peace will break out."