The Obama Administration on Monday criticized Israel for approving plans to build 700 new apartments in three Jewish neighborhoods on the eastern side of Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as their future capital.
The apartments will be built in neighborhoods that are home to tens of thousands of Jews already, and which almost no Israeli agrees should be surrendered and emptied of Jews as part of any peace deal with the Arabs.
But with Washington increasingly taking the Palestinian view of issues on the ground, an administration official speaking on condition of anonymity was not shy in referring to the new construction as settlement activity.
"...we consider all the Israeli settlements to be beyond the pale of what we wish to see going on, and are not helpful, again, to getting the two sides back to the table," the official said in remarks to the Associated Press.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev reminded the Americans that Israel does not "make a distinction between the West Bank and Jerusalem. Jerusalem is our capital and remains such."
Other officials also noted that eastern Jerusalem was not included in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's partial 10-month settlement freeze designed to get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
Unreported by most media outlets was the fact that the Jerusalem municipality also approved the construction of 500 new Arab housing units on the same day.
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