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Netanyahu on building plans: 'Jerusalem isn't a settlement'
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
09/11/2010
PMO responds to int'l criticism about Israeli plans to advance 1,345 homes in Jewish areas of east J'lem by saying gov't never agreed to place any restrictions on construction in capital, which has 800,000 residents.
 
"Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is the capitol of Israel," the office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday in a sharp retort to international criticism about plans for 1,345 homes in Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.

The government never agreed to place any restrictions on construction in Jerusalem, which has 800,000 residents, the prime minister's office said in a statement it issued while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in New York.

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Although much of the international community equates construction in east Jerusalem with that of West Bank settlements, Israel makes a sharp distinction between the two.

From November 2009 to September 2010 Israel halted new settlement construction in the West Bank, but during that time it continued to issue new tenders for building in east Jerusalem, which it considers part of its united capital.

"Israel does not see any connection between the peace process and the policy of planning and construction in Jerusalem, which has not changed in 40 years. For the last 40 years every Israeli government built in every part of the city. During that period peace agreements were signed with Egypt and Jordan and for 17 years direct negotiations were held with the Palestinians. These are historical facts. Construction in Jerusalem has never interfered with the peace process," the office said.

For the last 40 years Israel and the US have disagreed over the status of east Jerusalem, said the prime minister's office, which added that it hoped to over come these differences and to stay focused on the peace process.



It added that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was hopeful that his meeting Thursday with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton would advance the peace process."

Earlier on Tuesday US President Barack Obama criticized Israel at a news conference in Indonesia and said "this kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations."

JPost.com staff contributed to this report.
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