Israeli PM rejects calls for east Jerusalem freeze

2010-04-23 08:38 BJT

Israel's Prime Minister has rejected US calls to halt settlement construction in disputed east Jerusalem, hampering new efforts for a resumption of peace talks.

Benjamin Netanyahu's comments were broadcast shortly after the US' special envoy George Mitchell arrived for his first visit in six weeks. The timing of the statement has threatened to undermine Mitchell's latest efforts to restart peace negotiations. The US has been pushing Israel to cancel a planned housing project, and halt construction in east Jerusalem, in order to make confidence-building measures. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that he believed "President Obama and Senator Mitchell must be given a chance" to break the deadlock.

Saeb Erekat said, "I really believe that President Obama and Senator Mitchell must be given a chance, and I really hope the Israeli government will opt to refrain from any provocative actions, including settlement activities, and give peace a chance. What we need to focus on now is how to begin proximity talks, avoid home demolitions, settlement activities, settlement tenders."

Editor: Du Xiaodan | Source: