The Obama administration on Monday urged Israel to back away from a plan to build 3,000 more homes for settlers in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. "These actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations to achieve a two-state solution," White House press secretary Jay Carney said. The unusually critical words from the White House came after five European governments condemned the settlement expansion in disputed Palestinian territory. Israel said Tuesday it was moving forward with the plans, which it announced last week after the Palestinian Authority ignored its protests and won an upgrade in its status at the United Nations from "entity" to "non-member observer state."
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