Building cranes stand near new housing units under construction in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in southern East Jerusalem on August 2, 2016. The U.S. State Department and the White House both strongly condemned Israel's recent decision to expand construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Photo by Debbie Hill/ UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- The White House on Wednesday denounced Israel's decision to construct new housing in the West Bank, saying it poses a "serious and growing threat" to a two-state solution.
Overall, Israel plans to construct 463 housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem after Wednesday's High Planning Committee of the Civil Administration decision.
The committee, which oversees all West Bank construction, approved the building of 234 apartments, designated as part of a nursing home community, in Elkana; 31 homes in Beit Ayre and 20 in Givat Ze'ev. All three are districts in the West Bank. The committee also retroactively approved 180 existing housing units built in the 1980s but not designated as legally constructed until Wednesday.
"This is not the first time that we have heard an announcement like this from the Israeli government. And this significant expansion of settlement activity poses a serious and growing threat to the viability of a two-state solution," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during a press briefing. "We are particularly troubled by a policy of retroactively approving illegal outposts in unauthorized settlements."
Earnest said any official response other than public criticism of the decision would be something discussed in private.
Israel also intends to expand the Jewish settlement in the West Bank city of Hebron for the first time in over a decade. U.S. State Department John Kirby said the move is "corrosive to the cause of peace" and "not consistent with Israel's stated desire to achieve a two-state solution."
The United Nations has previously stressed building settlements violates several U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Ed Adamczyk contributed to this report.