JERUSALEM – Israel’s defense minister criticized a plan to raze 22 Palestinian homes to make room for an Israeli tourist center in disputed east Jerusalem after the U.S. expressed concern that the project could incite violence.

A Jerusalem municipal body approved the plan on Monday for shops, restaurants, art galleries and a large community center on the site next to the walled Old City where some say the biblical King David wrote his psalms.

In March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pressured Jerusalem’s mayor to delay it, apparently to fend off U.S. criticism at a time when relations are tense.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is in the U.S. for talks with the Obama administration, said Tuesday that Jerusalem officials “are not displaying common sense or good timing, and not for the first time.”

Jerusalem is the most divisive issue between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel annexed east Jerusalem after capturing it from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and nearly 200,000 Jews have moved there since. Palestinians hope to build the capital of a future state in east Jerusalem.