Psaki: J'lem Construction 'Exacerbates' Violence

State Department insists construction 'flies in the face' of the two-state solution in latest backlash against Jewish homes in Jerusalem.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki
State Department

The United States Wednesday sharply condemned Israeli plans to build 200 new Jewish homes in Jerusalem's Ramot neighborhood, according to AFPwarning such moves would only "exacerbate" spiraling tensions in the city.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also denounced the alleged torching of a mosque blamed on suspected Jewish extremists calling it a "hateful and provocative" act and urging officials to investigate.

"We are deeply concerned by this decision, particularly given the tense situation in Jerusalem, as well as the unequivocal and unanimous position of the United States and others in the international community opposing such construction in east Jerusalem," Psaki told reporters.

"These decisions to expand construction have the potential to exacerbate this difficult situation on the ground, and they will not contribute to efforts to reduce the tension."

The announcement came just ahead of the arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry in Jordan where he was to meet Jordanian King Abdullah II to discuss the flare-up in tensions over a private dinner.

Building tenders for Jewish homes in the Jewish state "fly in the face of the stated goal of achieving a two-state solution because it predetermines or pre-decides where construction should be," Psaki insisted.

She also blasted an arson attack on mosque in the Palestinian village, which Palestinian security officials blamed on "extremists Jewish settlers" - despite reports that it may have been a deliberately misreported electrical fire.

"The United States condemns the attack against a mosque in the West Bank. We believe that such hateful and provocative actions against a place of worship are never justified," Psaki said. She urged "law enforcement officials to quickly investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators."

"We encourage the local authorities to work together with the community to reduce tension, to defend religious freedom and to work against incitement," Psaki added.

The US has become particularly vehement regarding what it calls "settler homes" in the Jewish capital, with Psaki recently calling all Jewish construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria "illegitimate." 

Over the past several weeks, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave instructions for the building of about 660 homes in Ramat Shlomo and about 400 more in Har Homa as well as approving 2,610 building tenders from 2012 to be approved for full construction

State Department officials have been quick to condemn the moves in the strongest terms. Psaki responded to the moves by saying Washington was "deeply concerned" by the reports and American embassy officials were having high-level talks with Israeli leaders to seek more information.

"It is unfortunate that after the unequivocal and unanimous position last week of the international community opposing construction in Jerusalem at this sensitive time, authorities chose to advance [tenders]," State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez added last week. "We continue to engage at the highest levels with the Israeli government to make our position absolutely clear that we view settlement activity as illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem."