Netanyahu: No Construction Freeze in Jerusalem

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected demands by the Obama administration to freeze construction in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.

Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said Netanyahu has not changed the position he has held all along.

In an interview earlier this week with ABC, the prime minister called Palestinian demands to end construction in Jerusalem a "nonstarter."

Palestinian Authority senior negotiator Saeb Erekat, who called Netanyahu's position "very unfortunate," said he hoped the U.S. will be able to convince Israel to halt "settlement construction in east Jerusalem and elsewhere."

On Wednesday, Obama administration senior Middle East policy official Dan Shapiro met with Netanyahu envoy Yitzhak Molcho and advisor Ron Dermer in Jerusalem. They will meet again on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barack leaves for Washington on Sunday to speak at a conference organized by the American Jewish Committee. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also deliver an address at the conference.

Barack will meet with Clinton, U.S. National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones and other senior Obama administration officials as efforts continue to restart peace talks with the Palestinians.

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