U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that Israel’s announcement of new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem “were to some degree expected,” and urged Israelis and Palestinians to move head with peace talks due to resume this week.
“What this underscores is the importance of getting to the table, getting to the table quickly” and resolving disputes over settlements and other issues, said Kerry. He added that he had spoken on Monday with Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni and had called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is recovering from surgery.
Israel’s housing minister on Sunday approved plans for 1,200 new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as part of their state.
“The United States of America views all of the settlements as illegitimate,” said Kerry, who was on a visit to Colombia.