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Israeli PM refuses to halt Jerusalem constructions
Friday, April 23, 2010 05:16:09 PM, IANS/AKI
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Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the US call to halt construction in East Jerusalem even as Washington special envoy George Mitchell arrived in the region to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
“I am saying one thing: there will be no freeze in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying Thursday by Israel’s Channel 2 TV.
This is first visit by the US’ Middle East envoy since a row broke out between Israel and the US over house construction plans in East Jerusalem.
“This is what we are arguing about,” Netanyahu said. “They are saying we have to stop building, and I say as prime minister of all the Israelis, there are red lines. This is a red line. I won’t cross it. This is not a dispute with America.”
In March, the Israeli government had announced construction of 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem while US Vice President Joseph Biden was visiting the country. The announcement outraged the Obama administration and led to the Palestinian withdrawal from agreed-upon indirect negotiations with Israel.
In a visit to the US later that month, Netanyahu was presented with a set of concessions the White House wanted to see Israel make in an effort to restart negotiations with the Palestinians.
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