Israel denied a request by the United States on Thursday to temporarily freeze settlement construction in order to promote peace talks with the Palestinians.

In a meeting with Interior Minister Eli Yishai, US Ambassador Dan Shapiro requested the freeze - a repeated Palestinian precondition for negotiations - in order to bolster political goodwill as the US tries to counter Palestinian efforts to seek full UN membership.

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Shapiro promised that the United States would veto such efforts regardless of Israel's decision on settlements.


According to Army Radio, Yishai replied that no Israeli government had given in to the request to freeze settlements in the past, and that there was no reason for the current government to do so now.

Earlier in the month, the United States criticized a Likud-sponsored plan to legalize rogue settlement outposts, saying it does not recognize the "legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity."

"We oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts, which is unhelpful to our peace efforts and would contradict Israeli commitments and obligations," a statement from the US State Department said.

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