Thursday, 22 April 2010

Israel rejects US calls for east Jerusalem freeze

Why? Oh Why You reject our call for east Jerusalem freeze? Have we not been your benefactor for at least...Ooops:

"Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and America will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it." -- Ariel Sharon

Obama affirms 'unbreakable' US-Israel ties

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."

Although Netanyahu was repeating his long-standing position, the timing of the statement threatened to undermine Mitchell's latest efforts to restart peace talks. Mark Regev, an Israeli government spokesman, denied earlier reports that Israel had officially rejected an American demand for a settlement freeze in Jerusalem.

In Washington, the State Department said the decision to send Mitchell was made late Wednesday after lower-level officials had meetings with Israeli and Palestinian representatives.

"We don't go to meet just to meet. We go there because we have some indication that both sides are willing to engage seriously on the issues that are on the table," said spokesman P.J. Crowley.

"We understand that the Israelis have a long-standing position," he added. "But ... the status quo is not sustainable.

Mitchell arrived after a month-long break sparked by a dispute over Israeli construction in east Jerusalem, hoping to prod the Israelis and Palestinians to launch negotiations for the first time in more than a year.

It was far from certain whether he would succeed, though Israeli and Palestinian officials both indicated that they were ready to get past the deadlock.

The sides were set to begin indirect peace talks in early March when Israel revealed plans to build 1,600 homes for Jews in east Jerusalem. The announcement, which came during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden, infuriated the Americans and prompted the Palestinians to postpone the indirect talks indefinitely.

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.

Netanyahu has repeatedly refused to curb Jewish construction in east Jerusalem, saying he is following a four-decade-old policy of his predecessors. Israel considers all of the city to be its eternal capital. More?

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