The United States expressed disappointment Thursday over Israeli settlement activity after the approval of construction of a new Jewish enclave in annexed east Jerusalem.
However, the US State Department also said that it opposed a call by the Palestinians to take the issue to the UN Security Council, where Washington vetoed in February a resolution condemning Israeli settlements.
"We're disappointed by recent announcements in Jerusalem and we've raised this issue with the Israeli government and continue to make our concerns about it known," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
"As we've said, we don't believe that there's any answers that lie in pursuing a path through the UN for the Palestinian Authority. The only way to reach their goal of an independent state is through the negotiating table.
"Neither of these activities get us to where we need to go," Toner said of settlements and United Nations resolutions.
On Wednesday, Israel approved 14-home project Maale David in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood in the holy city that the Jewish state considers its undivided capital, according to state-owned Channel One TV.
The Palestinian leadership said it would seek a UN Security Council meeting on Israeli settlements, which negotiator Saeb Erakat described as an attempt to prevent a two-state solution.
In another sensitive step, Jerusalem's city council has ordered the closure of a wooden access ramp to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site for Muslims.
The Mughrabi ramp has been at the center of a complex row involving the city and Jewish and Muslim groups that respectively oversee the Western Wall plaza and the Al-Aqsa mosque compound next to it.
The State Department remarks came as President Barack Obama's Republican rivals strongly criticized his Middle East policy, portraying him as anti-Israel ahead of next year's presidential election.
by Mohammad Davari
© 2011 AFP