Sweden recognises Palestine state irking Israel
A Palestinian protester stands in front of a car of an Israeli that was set on fire by the protesters during clashes with Israeli security forces in east JerusalemReuters

The United States has condemned the Israeli government's decision to press ahead with further construction in east Jerusalem, beyond the Green Line.

Five hundred housing units were approved for construction in the settlement of Ramat Shlomo in east Jerusalem by the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee.

"It is unfortunate that after the unequivocal and unanimous position last week of the international community, opposing construction in East Jerusalem, at this sensitive time, the Israeli authorities chose to move forward," said Edgar Vasquez, a spokesman for the US State Department.

"We continue to engage at the highest level with the Israeli government to make our position absolutely clear, that we view settlement activity as illegitimate and that we unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem."

The move is a response to recent Palestinian violence in the Israeli capital which has seen a hit-and-run attack at a rail station kill a three-month-old baby and injure eight others.

The construction of the units was announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week but the number set for construction was originally 640.

The plan is to extend the ultra-orthodox neighbourhood by 19 acres which would see it come within touching distance of the Palestinian neighbourhood of Beit Hanina.

After Netanyahu's announcement of the construction last week, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the plans were not "conducive to what they state they want to achieve, which is peace in the region and a two-state solution."

She added that US policy, in relation to Israeli settlement building, "continues to oppose unilateral steps that would prejudge the outcome of negotiations on Jerusalem."