The ministry insisted the expansion was the result of the 2012 evacuation of an illegal settlement in Ulpana, which courts ruled was built on privately-owned Palestinian land. The expansion is planned to be ten times the size of the evacuation.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni insisted that the US had been informed of the plan immediately, and that it was “no cause for drama or anger.” The State Department termed the expansion “counterproductive.”
The timing of the new construction appears about as bad as possible, with a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas saying it appeared designed to sabotage the latest US push for new peace talks. Talks have been stalled for years, ending the last time Israel ditched a settlement freeze.