Israel OKs new homes after Palestine vote

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JERUSALEM -- Israel approved the construction of 3,000 new homes in Jerusalem and the West Bank Friday, less than 24 hours after the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize Palestine as a nonmember observer state.

The Palestinian Authority, the UN and the United States consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal. The area chosen for the housing, between Jerusalem and the Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim, is particularly sensitive because Israeli construction there may cut off Palestinians from their aspirational capital in east Jerusalem in a future peace accord.

Israel settlements and east Jerusalem construction "are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations or achieve a two-state solution," White House Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in an email.

The 193-member General Assembly voted 138-9, with 41 abstentions, for a resolution granting Palestinians a form of statehood recognition on par in the world body with the Holy See. The most significant ramification is that the new state may be able to join organizations such as the International Criminal Court.

The United States voted against the measure, and its passage may prompt U.S. lawmakers to seek to cut aid to the Palestinians.

The top Palestinian diplomat at the UN, Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat, in a statement called the Israeli settlement moves "the most blatant form of unilateral action" which "undermine any peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said that by going to the UN to seek statehood recognition, the Palestinians "have violated the agreements with Israel, and Israel will act accordingly."-- With AP

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