EU condemns new Israel settlement as illegal and potential obstacle to peace

The European Union's top diplomat has denounced Israel's plan to build more than 1,500 homes in Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. She calls the move illegal and a potential obstacle to peace.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, says the EU "deplores" the Israeli plan and says it violates international law. Ashton said in a statement Thursday that "any actions that could hamper or undermine the on-going negotiations must be avoided."

The construction plan, announced Wednesday, has also drawn angry condemnations from Palestinian officials, who accuse Israel of undermining newly relaunched peace efforts. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the Israeli plan as well, and Washington said it would not create a "positive environment" for the negotiations.