As expected, the Palestinian Authority (PA) reacted angrily to Israel’s announcement Sunday that it planned to build 1,700 new homes in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
The entity threatened to go to the UN Security Council over the latest Israeli move, reported AFP.
"The PLO is considering a mechanism to go to the Security Council and the UN against these new Israeli decisions, especially as there are international resolutions that consider settlements illegal," Palestine Liberation Organization senior member Wassel Abu Youssef told the news agency, without elaborating.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that he never promised to freeze construction during talks, saying, according to AFP, "Israel is honoring all the understandings reached at the start of negotiations with the Palestinians."
"The Palestinians knew very well that Israel would be building during the negotiations," he told ministers of his Likud party, a source who attended the meeting told AFP. “Israel did not take upon itself any limitations in this regard."
The PA, however, flatly denies any such "understandings."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Cairo on the first stop of an 11-day tour which will also take him to Israel and the PA, sought Sunday to calm fears that peace talks were faltering.
"I remain hopeful, and we will make every effort in the United States to move the process forward in a fair-handed way, a balanced way that reflects the complexity of these issues," he said, according to AFP.
He stressed that Washington remained committed to helping the parties reach a final peace deal, but acknowledged recent tensions over Israel's stated intention to keep building homes in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
"There is no doubt ... that the settlements have disturbed people's perceptions of whether or not people are serious and are moving in the right direction," he admitted.
In August, shortly after peace talks re-launched at Kerry’s urging, the Secretary of State said that new Israeli construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria was expected and added that it should not affect the resumption of peace talks.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu and Interior Minister Gideon Saar were reported to have agreed to build 1,500 new homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.
That news broke almost immediately after Israel began freeing 26 terrorists as a “gesture” to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The PA reacted angrily to this announcement as well, saying Israel’s move "destroys the peace process and is a message to the international community that Israel is a country that does not respect international law."