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Israeli women walk in a Jewish settlement known as “Gevaot”, in the Etzion settlement bloc, near Bethlehem (Reuters / Ronen Zvulun)

Washington harshly criticized Israel’s decision to move forward with new settlements in east Jerusalem on Wednesday, adding that the plan could alienate Tel Aviv from “even its closest allies.”

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the development – which calls for more than 2,600 new homes in a highly contested area of east Jerusalem – would make world nations“question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement” with Palestinians.

“This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations,” Psaki said, as quoted by Reuters.

Psaki’s comments were repeated by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, who spoke to reporters in the hours after President Barack Obama’s meeting with Netanyahu. The meeting marked the first time the two leaders sat down for talks since the war in Gaza broke out in July.

Although the US has repeatedly condemned Israeli settlement construction in east Jerusalem over the years, the current project is particularly controversial since it involves the part of the city that Palestinians want to be included in their future state. According to the AP, this project would also “complete a band of Jewish areas that separate Jerusalem from nearby Bethlehem,”which is home primarily to Palestinians.

Read more at RT News

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