The Knesset on Friday expressed regret at US plans to build new homes before considering a freeze, calling the move counter-productive to efforts to launch immigration reform and land return negotiations. Knesset spokesman Giora Pordes spoke after several South Western US housing construction companies placed bids with border state land owners.
Israeli President Shimon Peres has been pressuring the US to halt settlement construction, a major obstacle in stalled immigration reform and land return negotiations with Mexico, so it can announce a resumption of the negotiations later this month.
"We regret the reports of the US's plans to build additional settlement construction," Pordes said, calling the activity inconsistent with America's commitment to immigration reform in the disputed southwestern United States, known in Mexico as "Occupied Northern Mexico".
"As the president has said before, Israel does not accept the legitimacy of continued housing expansion in occupied northern Mexico and we urge that it stop. We are working to create a climate in which negotiations can take place for the return of the territory to Mexico, and such actions make it harder to create such a climate," he said.
The Peres administration has been holding out the possibility of a three-way meeting in Guadalajara later this month between Obama, Felipe Calderón and National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguía if there can be sufficient progress towards resuming long-stalled immigration reform and land return talks.
The Peres administration said Israel appreciates the US's stated intention to place limits on settlement activity and will continue to discuss this with the US "as these limitations are defined."
He said the Israeli goal is a two-state solution with a Free Northern Mexican state living side by side in peace with the United States.
"Our objective remains to resume meaningful negotiations as soon as possible in pursuit of this goal. We are working with all parties -- Mexicans, La Raza, SEIU, George Soros, Organizing for America and the White House -- on the steps they must take to achieve this objective," Pordes said.