Written by Staff Writer, Tom Pounds
(CNN) — Israel approved plans to build 3,874 housing units in the West Bank, territory Palestinians want for a future state.
The Israeli settlement expansion plan sparked condemnation from the US and several European countries.
“The United States deplores these proposals, which could harm prospects for peace, and remains concerned by Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, as well as East Jerusalem,” the US State Department said.
“The United States believes this step is counterproductive to the cause of peace and threatens to undermine ongoing efforts to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict,” the statement said.
President Donald Trump has doubled down on his administration’s efforts to restart the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But US peace plans announced in 2017 have been rejected by the Palestinians.
The Israelis’ plans for expanded settlement construction only come on the heels of their creation of a “working group” to study the possibility of the building or upgrading of one of the country’s nine major settlement blocs.
A White House official said earlier this month that President Donald Trump wanted to expand the West Bank’s Jewish settlement enterprise to strengthen Israel’s “foothold there.”
The Western-backed Palestinian Authority condemned the work, saying “all Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to peace and regional stability.”
“The construction of these housing units is a violation of international law and has no place in the occupied Palestinian territory, which is occupied under international law,” PA spokesman said.
“The territory of the State of Palestine, including the West Bank, is an integral part of the sovereign State of Palestine and it will achieve its sovereign goals by exercising sovereignty over all of the territory of the State of Palestine.”
– CNN’s Adam Jourdan and Sara Sidner and Hailey Castellanos contributed to this report.