A top aide to U.S. President Barack Obama has described as "destructive" to the peace process Israel's announcement of plans to build 1,600 new homes in a Jewish neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
David Axelrod, Obama's chief political adviser, said on U.S. NBC television that the Israeli announcement was also an "insult" to the United States, Israel's top ally.
The Israeli announcement occurred during last week's visit to Israel by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and came shortly after the Palestinians had agreed to indirect peace talks with Israel under U.S. mediation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 14 publicly expressed regret over the incident and urged "calm."
Netanyahu has said he had no prior knowledge that the announcement was going to be made, and has ordered an investigation into the incident.
Israeli construction in East Jerusalem is among the most contentious issues in the peace negotiations, as Israel has said it considers the entire city of Jerusalem to be its capital, while Palestinians claim the eastern sector as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
compiled from agency reports