Israel apologized for embarrassing Vice President Joe Biden by announcing it had approved 1,600 new homes in disputed east Jerusalem while Biden was engaged in talks with Palestinian leaders. Israel is not going to rescind the decision, however. The announcement was sharply criticized by Biden and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. "The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now," Biden said. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat chimed in, warning, "I think the Israeli government is making it almost impossible for us, the Americans and the international community, to take a one centimeter step in the direction of reviving the peace process.” Egypt and the United Nations also criticized the settlement announcement.
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