Palestinians say Israel illegally annexed the West Bank and East Jerusalem after the 1967 war, a position backed by most of the international community and by multiple United Nations resolutions. Palestinians demand the return of that territory as part of their future state, and plan to establish their capital in East Jerusalem. (Click here for a map of East Jerusalem from Palestine Monitor.)
The Jerusalem Post , a conservative newspaper, played down the new settlement authorizations, reporting that they would not derail talks with the US, and that diplomatic efforts would go on as planned.
George Mitchell, the US envoy to the Middle East, is expected in Jerusalem for talks Saturday, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due in Egypt for talks Sunday. The Post quoted a US source as saying the new settlement authorizations weren't a deal-breaker for the US.
"The settlements aren't the be-all, end-all" of American policy efforts, one State Department official told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "Our ultimate goal [is] to create the conditions for negotiations."
The official said that while the new West Bank construction didn't help reach that goal, "this doesn't mean we're going to stop working toward setting the conditions for negotiations."