WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is standing firmly behind its criticism of Israeli settlement construction and is pushing back against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's retort that the U.S. rebuke goes "against American values."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest has pointedly noted that American values were responsible for U.S. support of Israel and for building an "Iron Dome" anti-rocket system to protect Israelis.

The issue centers on last week's final go-ahead in Jerusalem for construction of a new housing development in East Jerusalem.

Earnest says Monday that it has been longstanding U.S. policy to oppose any unilateral action that attempts to prejudge the status of Jerusalem.

Earnest warned last week that the project would distance Israel from "even its closest allies" and raise questions about its commitment to seeking peace with Palestinians.