Russia on Friday said Israel's approval of 1,600 new homes in an east Jerusalem settlement would worsen an already explosive situation in the Middle East peace process.
The decision to build new homes in the area "cannot but arouse serious concern and disapproval," Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement.
"They worsen the difficult, explosive situation in the Middle Eastern process. They are illegal, and defy international efforts ... to find a mutually acceptable way to resume Palestinian-Israeli talks," Lukashevich said.
Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai gave final approval Thursday to the construction of 1,600 units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement, prompting a furious response from Palestinian officials.
The move comes as the international community struggles to find a way to relaunch peace talks in a bid to head off a Palestinian plan to seek United Nations membership in the next few months.
The Israeli minister is expected to shortly approve 2,700 additional homes in two other east Jerusalem settlements.
Russia "expects that the Israeli side will rethink these plans," Lukashevich said.