US President Barack Obama says Israel's latest move to build hundreds of new Jewish housing units in Gilo - a neighborhood claimed by the Palestinians - complicates administration efforts to relaunch peace talks and embitters the Palestinians.
Obama told Fox News in an interview Wednesday that additional settlement building doesn't make Israel safer.
He said such moves make it harder to achieve peace in the region, and embitters the Palestinians in a way that he said could be very dangerous, possibly referring to Palestinians plans to unilaterally declare statehood – an option which continues to gain steam.
Obama and the Palestinians have demanded that Israel halt settlement construction.
The Jerusalem city government moved forward Tuesday with plans to build in a Jewish neighborhood in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim for their future capital.
Britain and France have also condemned the construction in Gilo, but in Israel - as Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni stressed to French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner - there is consensus on the Jerusalem neighborhood.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also addressed the issue during a meeting with Kouchner later Wednesday and told his French counterpart that "Gilo is an integral part of Israel, like Tel Aviv and Herzliya."
The minister stated that building authorization is a strictly procedural process and noted, "We have no intention of interfering with it."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the Israeli move, spokesman Farhan Haq said. Ban "believes that such actions undermine efforts for peace and cast doubt on the viability of the two-state solution" for Israelis and Palestinians, he said.
AP, Reuters and Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report