The United States and other Mideast mediators criticized Israel on Tuesday for a rush of new settlement building approvals, warning the Jewish state it won't be able to shape a future peace agreement through unilateral construction in east Jerusalem or other lands claimed by Palestinians.
The quartet of mediators said the housing units planned in the West Bank settlement of Ariel and east Jerusalem prompted a restatement of its position that "unilateral action by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community."
The U.S., European Union, Russia and United Nations constitute the quartet. In a statement, they noted that the fate of Jerusalem was among the core issues that needed to be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and that the building construction "underscores the urgent need for the parties to resume serious and substantive talks."
Israel on Monday approved the building of 277 apartments in Ariel, the Jewish settlement deepest inside the West Bank. In recent days, it has moved ahead on plans to build 2,500 new apartments in east Jerusalem and Israeli officials say 2,700 more will be approved soon.
Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and claims it as part of its capital. Palestinians hope to establish their future capital there.
Talks have been at a standstill for months.
"This comes at a critical juncture with quartet efforts ongoing to resume negotiations, which are the only way to a just and durable solution to the conflict," the mediators said. "It is up to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to make tough decisions and avoid actions by their governments that undermine the very goals they and we are trying to achieve."