Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to express unusually strong U.S. objections to new Israeli construction in disputed territory in East Jerusalem.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Clinton told the Israeli leader "the United States considers the announcement a deeply negative signal about Israel's approach to the bilateral relationship" with the United States.
"His action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America's interests," Crowley said, describing the discussion.
The Israeli announcement came during Vice President Joe Biden's visit this week to Israel. It complicated U.S. efforts to set up so-called proximity talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, the latest attempt to nudge the two sides back toward talking directly.
"The secretary said she could not understand how this happened particularly in light of the United State's strong commitment to Israel's security and she made it clear the Israeli government needed to demonstrate not just through words but in specific actions that they are committed to this relationship and to the peace process," Crowley said.
Crowley, speaking at his Friday afternoon briefing at the State Department, said the U.S. objected to the Israeli construction announcement "not just in timing but in substance."