Israel rejects criticism of settlements

In this July 27 2009 file photo, Jewish settlers pile up rocks to build a wall near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Efrat south of Jerusalem. Israel's government has approved 40 new houses to replace trailers at a West Bank settlement, the settlement's mayor said Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 drawing criticism from Palestinians. AP Photo/Dan Balilty, File

JERUSALEM - Israel is lashing out at diplomats at the U.N. who condemned Israeli settlement construction in territory claimed by the Palestinians and attacks apparently carried out by Jewish settlers.

Fourteen diplomats voiced their concerns Tuesday. South Africa's U.N. ambassador, Baso Sangqu, called Israeli settlement construction the "main impediment for the two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

A statement from Israel's Foreign Ministry Wednesday said the diplomats should focus on peacemaking in "bloody hotspots" like Syria instead of "interfering with Israel's domestic affairs," apparently referring to attacks by Israeli extremists on military bases, mosques and Palestinian property.

Israel has apprehended only a few settlers suspected in the attacks.

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