Thursday, April 22, 2010

Israel rejects US calls for east Jerusalem freeze

clipped from
A cloud casts a shadow on the Jewish neighborhood of Har Homa in east Jerusalem, Thursday, April 22, 2010. Aides to Israel's prime minister said Thurs

JERUSALEM – Israel's prime minister on Thursday rejected U.S. calls to halt construction in disputed east Jerusalem, clouding a new peace mission by Washington's Mideast envoy.

Benjamin Netanyahu's comments were broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 TV shortly after envoy George Mitchell arrived for his first visit in six weeks. Mitchell's efforts had been on hold due to disagreements over east Jerusalem, the section of the holy city claimed by Israel and the Palestinians.

"I am saying one thing. There will be no freeze in Jerusalem," Netanyahu said. "There should be no preconditions to talks."

There was no immediate U.S. reaction.

The U.S. has been pushing Israel to cancel the planned housing project, halt other east Jerusalem construction and make other confidence-building measures to the Palestinians.

Israel captured the area — home to key Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites — in the 1967 Mideast war and immediately annexed it. The annexation has never been internationally recognized.
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