Tags: Israel | OM | freeze | settlement

Netanyahu Vows No Construction Freeze

Monday, 19 April 2010 11:03 AM

WASHINGTON – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed demands for a freeze on Jewish construction in annexed east Jerusalem as a "non-starter," in a US television interview aired Monday.

The issue of settlements, and construction in east Jerusalem in particular, have caused a rare public row between the Israeli and US governments, and soured Netanyahu's visit to Washington last month.

"The Palestinian demand is that we prevent Jews from building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem," Netanyahu told the ABC News show "Good Morning America."

"You know, that is an unacceptable demand. If we made it in London or made it in New York or in Paris, people would cry foul."

Netanyahu was careful in the interview to attribute calls for a halt to such construction to the Palestinians, and not the United States, which has also condemned such activity in east Jerusalem.

Washington has reportedly called on Netanyahu to embrace a four-month freeze in east Jerusalem, one of several demands to improve the chances of relaunching peace talks with the Palestinians.

But the Israeli leader argued in the interview that the status of Jerusalem would only be decided in final status talks with Palestinians on a two-state solution to the conflict.

"This demand that they've now introduced, the Palestinians, to stop all construction, Jewish construction in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, is totally, totally a non-starter."

Palestinians, however, counter that Israeli settlement construction is an attempt to establish facts on the ground before final status talks, and have demanded a total freeze on such activity.

Israel in November announced a 10-month halt to new construction in the occupied West Bank following months of US pressure on both sides to relaunch peace talks suspended after the outbreak of the Gaza war in late 2008.

The Palestinians dismissed the move as insufficient because it left out east Jerusalem — which they view as their future capital -- as well as public buildings and housing projects already underway.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it, in a move not recognized by the international community. It views all of Jerusalem as its capital.

The United States has warned that new construction in east Jerusalem or the West Bank endangers the prospect of proximity talks it is trying to broker between the two sides.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Monday, 19 April 2010 11:03 AM
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