Israel’s plan to construct another 1,600 homes on occupied Palestinian territory "undermines the trust we need," US Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
He condemned Israel’s refusal to freeze settlements and its plan to build new homes on land where Palestinians are seeking to establish an independent state.
Biden, who arrived 90 minutes late for a dinner at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence, said that Tel Aviv’s blueprint for Ramat Shlomo, an area of the West Bank annexed to Jerusalem Al-Quds by Israel, is "undermining the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I’ve had here in Israel."
Israel’s intransigence has put the US vice president in an awkward position ahead of a meeting with acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, the statement added.
US President Barack Obama’s envoy, George Mitchell, is due back in the region next week to try to set the structure and scope of the "proximity talks" in which Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will meet separately with a US mediator.