Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again rejected calls to stop construction of Jewish housing in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians hope to make their capital.

Netanyahu says direct talks should go forward without preconditions, although the U.S. and the Palestinians have said a freeze on settlement construction is necessary before negotiations can proceed.

Beyond his own conservative views, the prime minister is under domestic pressure from his governing coalition, which includes ultranationalist, ultrareligious and expansionist pols. — PZS

BBC:

Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since 1967. It annexed the area in 1981 and sees it as its exclusive domain. Under international law the area is occupied territory. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Mr Netanyahu said the Israeli government would discuss East Jerusalem as part of what he called “final discussions”, but it could not be a precondition to direct talks.

“This demand that they’ve now introduced, the Palestinians, to stop all construction, Jewish construction in Jewish neighbourhoods in Jerusalem, is totally, totally a non-starter, because what it does is prevent peace.”

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