JERUSALEM Ã¢â‚¬â€ Israeli policy on Jerusalem remains unchanged, the prime minister’s office said on Friday, one day after the premier returned from Washington where he faced pressure to freeze settlements.
The prime minister’s position is that there is no change in Israel’s policy on Jerusalem that has been pursued by all governments of Israel for the last 42 years,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu’s office said in a statement.
Israel insists a partial moratorium on settlement building it imposed in the occupied West Bank cannot be extended to east Jerusalem as it considers the entire city its “eternal and indivisible” capital.
Later in the day, Netanyahu was to discuss with his security cabinet “a series of issues from the contacts he had in the United States in order to restart peace talks with the Palestinians,” the statement said.
A spat with the US erupted after Netanyahu’s government announced 1,600 new housing units for annexed, largely Arab, east Jerusalem as US Vice President Joe Biden was in the region earlier this month hoping to promote peace talks.
The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state, and refuse to meet Netanyahu face-to-face without a complete freeze of settlement construction in the occupied territories.
In Washington, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Israeli-Palestinian tensions — which the US administration had hoped to ease — are affecting Washington’s national security interests.
“The lack of progress toward Middle East peace is clearly an issue that’s exploited by our adversaries in the region,” he said.