The United States is urging Israel to reverse its decision to declare a large part of the West Bank "state land" for more possible settlements, saying it would send a very troubling message.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday more Jewish settlements in territory Palestinians want for a future state are contrary to Israel's stated goal of a peace deal with the Palestinians.
Psaki said the United States stresses to both sides its strong opposition to any steps that undermine a two-state solution in the Middle East.
Israel says it is taking over 400 hectares of the Etzion bloc near Bethlehem in reaction to the kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teenagers in June. Israel has named three Palestinians as suspects.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat will be in Washington Wednesday for talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. It will be Kerry's first meeting with the Palestinians since he was in Cairo in July to try to negotiate a truce between Israel and Hamas militants.
Psaki gave no details on Wednesday's meeting other than saying the cease-fire in Gaza would likely be on the agenda.
The truce reached last month after 50 days of fighting is holding, but no date has been set for talks on a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas.
Some information for this report comes from AFP.