US attacks new Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank
The United States has slammed Israeli plans to build hundreds of new settlement homes in occupied east Jerusalem.
Washington said the move was "provocative" and would seriously undermine prospects for peace with Palestinians.
"We are deeply concerned by reports today that the government of Israel has published tenders for 323 units in east Jerusalem settlements," State Department Spokesman John Kirby said in a statement on Wednesday.
"This follows Monday's announcement of plans for 770 units in the settlement of Gilo. These steps by Israeli authorities are the latest examples of what appears to be a steady acceleration of settlement activity that is systematically undermining the prospects for a two-state solution."
The US said the expansion of settlements poses serious questions about Israel's commitment to peace with Palestinians and new efforts to promote talks between a Quartet of world powers.
"As the recent Quartet report highlighted, this is part of an ongoing process of land seizures, settlement expansion, legalisations of outposts, and denial of Palestinian development that risk entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict."
The United Nations joined in condemning plans to build 770 homes for Israeli settlers that would expand the Gilo settlement on the southern perimeter of east Jerusalem.
They are part of a larger Israeli plan for around 1,200 units approved some three years ago, according to Ir Amim, an NGO that monitors Israeli settlement activity.
On Wednesday, tenders for 323 settlement homes in four areas of east Jerusalem were published, Ir Amim and Israeli NGO Peace Now said.
The homes were not built but the settlement plans now appear to be reactivated, Peace Now said.
"On the one hand, the government does not allow for Palestinian construction, and on the other hand it promotes massive construction for Israelis," Peace Now said in a statement.
It said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently "repudiated" a report by the peace Quartet set up to promote talks between Palestinians and Israelis.
"[It proves] that [the government] has no intention to promote a peace agreement based on a two-state solution".
Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank are viewed as illegal under international law.
They are also considered major stumbling blocks to peace efforts as they are built on land Palestinians view as part of their future state.
Meanwhile, Israel continues to demolish Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank with more than 650 Palestinian structures destroyed this year.
Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967.