BEIRUT

Middle East

US hits Israel hard on settlement plans

A general view of Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish settlement in the mainly Palestinian eastern sector of Jerusalem, seen on December 18 2012. (AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)

WASHINGTON: The United States has slammed Israel for continuing to announce new settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians in an unusually rare and blunt criticism of its top Mideast ally.

The State Department accused Israel on Tuesday of engaging in a "pattern of provocative action" that runs counter to statements from Israeli leaders that they are committed to peace. Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said settlement activity only puts the goal of peace "further at risk." She urged both Israel and the Palestinians to halt all provocations and take steps to revive long-stalled peace talks.

The tough comments came as Israel's prime minister rejected international criticism of plans to build thousands more Jewish homes in east Jerusalem, saying construction would move forward.

 

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