JERUSALEM (CNN) – The Obama administration moved quickly Tuesday to criticize Israel's approval of a construction plan for hundreds of houses in a disputed neighborhood on Jerusalem's southern outskirts.
"At a time when we are working to re-launch negotiations, these action make it more difficult for our efforts to succeed," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a written statement.
"The U.S. also objects to other Israeli practices in Jerusalem related to housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes. Our position is clear: the status of Jerusalem is a permanent-status issue that must be resolved through negotiations between the parties," Gibbs said.
"Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations."
The Jewish state's Interior Ministry said Tuesday it had approved the construction of 900 units in Gilo. The approval of construction moves forward the process for the project; it will now be opened to public objections.
Final approval will follow several other stages, and construction is likely several years away.
– CNN's Shira Medding contributed to this report.