“An Israeli government plan to build nearly 700 homes for Jewish families in Palestinian-dominated East Jerusalem drew fire Monday from the Obama administration, which called the plan a hindrance to relaunching peace talks. ‘The United States opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem,’ White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, calling on Israelis and Palestinians to return to U.S.-brokered talks. ‘Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally preempt, or appear to preempt, negotiations.’ Israel’s Housing Ministry unveiled plans Monday to expand housing in three mostly Jewish neighborhoods that Israel annexed to Jerusalem after capturing the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War. Israelis view the neighborhoods as part of Jerusalem, but to Palestinians and most of the international community, the Jewish enclaves are illegal settlements on occupied land. Israel defended the project, which came on the heels of a similar plan announced last month to construct 900 homes in the Gilo neighborhood, also captured in 1967.”
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