U.S. blasts Israeli settlements as ‘illegitimate’

Washington was ‘deeply concerned’ by the reports and American embassy officials are having high-level talks with Israeli leaders

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The United States Monday blasted Israel for pledging to build 1,000 more settler homes in Arab east Jerusalem, saying any such move would be “incompatible” with peace efforts.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington was “deeply concerned” by the reports and American embassy officials were having high-level talks with Israeli leaders to seek more information.

“We continue to make our position absolutely clear that we view settlement activity as illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem,” Psaki told reporters.

“Israel’s leaders have said they would support a pathway to a two-state solution, but moving forward with this type of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace,” she added.

Jordan on Monday requested an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the plans to build more Jewish settlements, diplomats said.

The request followed a letter from Palestinian representative to the United Nations Riyadh Mansour calling for a urgent meeting to "address this crisis situation in occupied east Jerusalem."

Jordan, a Security Council member, put forward the request late Monday and was awaiting a response from Argentina, which chairs the 15-member council, on setting a date.

Diplomats told AFP the meeting was unlikely to be held on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Washington repeatedly condemns moves to build Jewish settlements either in the West Bank or east Jerusalem. The city is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as their future capital in any peace treaty.

But the U.S. fails to back its words with any threatened consequences against Israel, and remains the country’s staunchest ally.

“Ties between us are unshakable,” Psaki reiterated.

“There are times when we disagree with actions of the Israeli government, including... the issue of settlements, where we have deep concerns about some of the steps the government is taking,” she said.

“We expressed those, but it does not mean that we don’t have a strong and formidable relationship that continues.”

Israel seized east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

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