Netanyahu rules out any freeze in new construction
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel granted the go-ahead on Tuesday for construction of 1,100 new Jewish housing units in east Jerusalem, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out any freeze in settlement construction, raising already heightened tensions after last week's Palestinian move to seek U.N. membership.
Israel's Interior Ministry said the homes would be built in Gilo, a sprawling Jewish enclave in southeast Jerusalem. It said construction could begin after a mandatory 60-day period for public comment, a process that spokesman Roi Lachmanovich called a formality.
The announcement drew swift condemnation from the Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as their future capital. The United States, European Union and United Nations all expressed disappointment with Israel's decision.
"This sends the wrong signal at this sensitive time," said Richard Miron, spokesman for U.N. Mideast envoy Robert Serry.
The Palestinians have demanded that Israel halt all settlement construction in east Jerusalem and the adjacent West Bank — territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war — as a condition for resuming peace talks
White House responds: