State Department blasts new Jerusalem construction

State Department says U.S. is strongly opposed to "settlement activity" after Israel approves new homes in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood.

Elad Benari ,

State Department building
State Department building

The State Department on Wednesday issued a scathing condemnation of Israel after it issued building permits for 181 new homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, located in the southern part of the city.

Jerusalem spokeswoman Brachie Sprung said plans in Gilo were first approved in 2012 and that Wednesday's approvals were for "technical details of plot distribution," reported The Associated Press.

She said more detailed building permits will be required before the units are built.

Nevertheless, State Department spokesman John Kirby blasted the move, telling reporters, "We strongly oppose settlement activity."

Kirby further stated that Israel’s actions "risk entrenching a one-state reality" and raise serious questions about the Jewish state's commitment to a negotiated settlement with the Palestinian Authority.

Channel 2 News first reported last week that Jerusalem would approve new construction projects in areas located beyond the “Green Line”, including the 181 new housing units in Gilo.

The 181 units in question are several residential buildings to be built by a private developer.

The U.S. administration has repeatedly condemned Israeli construction in Jerusalem in general, and specifically in Gilo. In July, the State Department described plans to build in Gilo as “corrosive” to peace.

Israel later rejected the international criticism over its planned construction in Jerusalem as “lacking any factual basis”.

“The claim that the construction in Gilo undermines the solution of two states for two peoples is lacking any factual basis and diverts attention from the real obstacle to peace - the Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state under any borders,” it said.