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Israeli FM: Call to Halt Jerusalem Settlement 'Unreasonable'


Israel's foreign minister says it is "unreasonable" to expect Israel to halt settlement construction in disputed East Jerusalem.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday a controversial housing plan has given some in the international community an opportunity to make unreasonable demands of the Jewish state.

Israel drew international criticism last week after the government announced plans to build 1,600 new units for Jewish settlers in Jerusalem's mainly Arab eastern sector.

Israel announced the housing plan just as the United States was launching indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The United States condemned the move and asked Israel to show its commitment to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

U.S. officials said they expected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to phone Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with a response.

Clinton departed Wednesday for Moscow, where she will take part in a meeting of the Middle East Quartet of peace negotiators. U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell also will attend.

Since the diplomatic dispute broke out last week, both sides have sought to soothe relations.

Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the Obama administration's support for Israel. He expressed deep appreciation for President Barack Obama's commitment to Israel's security and the deep ties shared by the countries.

On Tuesday, Secretary Clinton said the United States shares a "close, unshakable" bond with Israel.


Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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