Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday said Israel's evictions of Palestinian families from east Jerusalem are "deeply regrettable" and urged the close U.S. ally to refrain from such "provocative" actions.
Clinton, speaking during a press conference alongside her Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh, said such actions breached Israel's duties under the 2003 internationally endorsed roadmap for Palestinian-Israeli peace.
"These actions are deeply regrettable. I have said before that the eviction of families and demolition of homes in east Jerusalem is not in keeping with Israeli obligations," Clinton told reporters.
"And I urge the government of Israel and municipal officials to refrain from such provocative actions.
"Both sides have responsibilities to refrain from provocative actions that can block the path toward a comprehensive peace agreement," the chief U.S. diplomat continued.
"Unilateral actions taken by either party cannot be used to prejudge the outcome of negotiations. And they will not be recognized as changing the status quo."
Judeh welcomed Clinton's stance.
He said evictions and any other actions that change the current status quo in east Jerusalem prejudice "the outcome of the efforts that are currently undertaken to relaunch negotiations" between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
"East Jerusalem is occupied territory," he added, referring to Israel's capture of the territory in the 1967 Six Day War and subsequent annexation in a move not recognized by the international community.
"It is very, very important that people bear in mind that this is part and parcel of the discussions that will take place when negotiations are relaunched."
Such actions "are not only unwelcome and condemned, but we hope that they will stop, and stop immediately," said Jordan's chief diplomat.
As one of the two Arab countries to have signed a peace treaty with Israel — the other is Egypt — Jordan plays a key intermediary role in trying to bridge gaps between Palestinians and Israelis.
Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of a future state that includes the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israeli police on Sunday evicted the two Palestinian families from their homes in occupied east Jerusalem.
The Supreme Court ordered the evictions following an appeal by the Nahalat Shimon International settler group, which claimed Jewish settlers have title deeds for the properties, despite U.N. and Palestinian denials.
Sheikh Jarrah is one of the most sensitive neighborhoods closest to the so-called Green Line separating east and west Jerusalem, with the fate of the city one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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