“Israel will continue to stand by its essential interests even in the face of international pressure, and there will be no change in the decision that was taken,” the Israeli prime minister’s office said Tuesday.
The decision, which a senior Israeli official in the prime minister’s office said was in response to last week’s United Nations’ vote elevating the U.N. status of the Palestinian Authority, has drawn international ire and concern that it could complicate efforts to restart peace talks.
Israel plans to build 3,000 housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, many of them in the large West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. Long-term plans call for the eventual construction of 5,000 units in the area.
Palestinian leaders object, saying the settlements are illegal and would slice the West Bank in two and cut it off from the proposed Palestinian capitol of East Jerusalem.
Israel has not yet formally acknowledged the plans.
Australia and Egypt on Tuesday joined five European countries that have summoned Israel’s ambassador to hear criticism of the decision.