March 9th, 2010
05:43 PM ET

U.S. condemns Israeli decision to build new housing units

[Updated 5:34 p.m.] White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs echoed Biden's condemnation at a briefing in Washington. 

"I don't believe that either the substance or the timing [of the announcement] is particularly helpful, and I think [it] runs counter to the very productive talks the vice president was having in the region," Gibbs said. 

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 [Updated 3:34 p.m.] Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the United States condemns Israel's decision to build new housing units in a Jerusalem neighborhood, calling it "a step that undermines the trust we need right now." 

"I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units," Biden said in a statement issued just hours after he met with Israeli leaders in the region. 

"The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I've had here in Israel." 

Israel announced plans earlier Tuesday to build 1,600 housing units in Jerusalem, but denied the new construction is in East Jerusalem - a sticking point in the Mideast peace process. 

[Posted 1:32 p.m. ] Israel said Tuesday it would build 1,600 new housing units in a Jerusalem neighborhood, but denied the new construction is in east Jerusalem - a sticking point in the Mideast peace process. 

However, lead Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the Israeli government is "determined to undermine" efforts to jump-start peace negotiations, calling the plan "a disaster." 

The Israeli Interior Ministry said it would build the new housing units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, located on the east side of the Green Line in disputed territory. The line separates the borders of Israel as delineated by the United Nations from territory Israel captured in 1967 in the Six-Day War. 

The announcement Tuesday came amid visits to Israel by U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and George Mitchell, the Obama administration's special envoy for Middle East peace. 

Mitchell said Monday that Israeli and Palestinian leaders had accepted indirect talks aimed at restarting direct talks. Negotiations between the two sides have been stalled for over a year. 

In announcing those indirect talks, Mitchell encouraged both sides to refrain from any statements or actions that could inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of the talks. 

"It is a disaster," Erakat said in response to the plan. "We have a determined government in Israel, that is determined to undermine Mr. Senator Mitchell. They are determined to undermine the Obama administration's efforts to revive peace ... It can't be tolerated."

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Filed under: Middle East
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Grego

    Ah, Biden knows Jerusalem is part of Israel, right?

    March 9, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bruce McClure

    US condemns, and then sends along the next foreign aid installment. Maybe the UN ought to consider some painful sanctions here, to force compliance with prior resolutions?

    March 9, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. djga67

    This administrations is so amazingly backwards there is no way to move forward.
    They are thumbing their nose at every ally we have.

    March 9, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gop

    It’s a very sad day for our country when we have a vice president that condemns one of our best allies in the world.

    I am a bit sick of this Anti Semitic administration we now have in our country.

    Every time you look around you can tell Obama and members of his administration have nothing but distaste for the Jewish people.

    I say it is Israel’s land to do what they wish and this administration has no right to criticize our friends and allies.

    March 9, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Riz

    Keep condemning and they will keep building..what a mockery!!

    March 9, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JoJo

    Israel is one country in the world that shortage of housing doesn't exist. My question is for who they building those housing units?. They been building since they occupied the land in 1967, and they still at it. I anderstand they try to make it difficult to return any land to the Palestinians, by the time they get done with it, they will have nothing left to give back, I don't expect Israel is spending all that money to develop housing to return them at later date to the Palestinians anyhow. A blind man can see what Israel is doing. They been up to no good since the State of Israel was created, and still up to no good, even when Vice President Joe Biden is in the area.

    March 9, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. asdf

    I have traditionally been an Israel supporter mainly because do much more for humanity than any of the Arabs (for example compare Nobel prizes, or the fact many of Intels newest chips were designed in Israel) but the fact is this is unjustifiable. They are quickly becoming more of a liability than asset to the United States. Typical of the culture to do a giant land grab before it becomes obvious that the world will force a two state solution. Grant their neighbors culture is hard to respect but us vs them is only going to lead to 2000 more years of violence.

    March 9, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Marine

    Funny how nobody commented on this. So its ok that there doing this? Condemning them won't fix crap. These people do not want peace. How about we stop funding to this terrorist country? The American people that have no jobs and are struggling can use the billions they are giving them for weapons and what not. Its unreal. When will we wake up!?

    March 9, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jon

    Good for Israel! We need to shut up and stay out of their buisiness. Do you see Isreal condemming the US for the Iraq war? How about Afghanistan? It is about time we take a lesson from Isreal and learn how to deal with these terror nations. Why is it that we condem Isreal and make them hold back and lesson their response to terrorist attacks that occur against them? We should turn them lose on the middle east land let them bring a little terror of their own! But we are so worried what the opion of US will be. We are consumed with trying to win the hearts and minds of the heartless and mindless. Nothing follows.

    March 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. concerned citizen

    What an absolute slap to the US administration. When is the US government going to say enough to these constant gestures in undermining US foreign policy? Disgusting, it's time for a viable one state for two people solution, maybe this will appease the Jewish State.

    March 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Evan Nee

    U.S hypocrites, should not dictate to Israel what is does in it's own country. Who are Washington Politicians to over ride what God has said concerning His people.

    March 9, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JJ

    Words mean nothing, Joe. A man is measured by his actions, not his saliva, and the question is, what are the two men in the White House going to do? Posture? Or bring change by holding Israel accountable for its actions?

    March 9, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rowsdower

    Here we go again. The "Israeli Land Development Corporation" is on the prowl getting in on some fabulous new real estate deals. It is the only builder that gets its land for free and puts up condo's with other peoples money. All they have to do is say "terrorist", kill a few women and children, and cash in on some great properties. We better be careful or they'll put settlements on the 9-11 lot.

    March 9, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jphilly08

    everybody knows that isreal doesn't care what america thinks. they have their own agenda, biden and the crew are just trying to save face so that if anybody throws it in his face they ca say "well we objected to it!"

    March 9, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ed

    Same old MO ... Isreal does not want peace.

    March 9, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
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