The White House says that if Israel were to move forward with a controversial housing development in east Jerusalem, it would distance Israel from, quote, "even its closest allies."

The sharp criticism came just hours after President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at the White House. The two leaders did not mention the new construction project during their remarks to reporters.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says that the 2,500-unit project would only draw "condemnation" from the international community. He says it would also call into question Israel's commitment to peaceful negotiations with Palestinians.

The new project is contentious because it would complete a band of Jewish areas that separate Jerusalem from nearby Bethlehem.