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EU, U.S., China Criticize Israel On New Housing Units In East Jerusalem

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

The European Union and the United States have criticized the approval in Israel of the construction of 1,100 new Jewish housing units in disputed East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians, who seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, said the move shows that Israel is not interested in renewed peace talks.

The Israeli move came just days after Palestinian National Authority President Mahmud Abbas formally applied for Palestinian membership as a state in the United Nations on September 23 -- a move that prompted international powers to call on the Israelis and Palestinians to quickly resume negotiations toward a peace deal.

The European Union has called on Israel to reverse the decision to construct 1,100 new housing units in East Jerusalem, while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the Israeli plan "counterproductive" to efforts to revive peace talks.

"As you know, we have long urged both sides to avoid any kind of action which could undermine trust," she said, "including -- perhaps most particularly in Jerusalem -- any action that could be viewed as provocative by either side."

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China "deeply regrets" Israel's approval of the new Jewish housing units in disputed East Jerusalem, and urged the country to "act prudently."

The Palestinian leadership has said all Israeli settlement building on contested West Bank land must be halted before the Palestinians will return to talks.

compiled from agency reports

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