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U.S. Awaits Israel Response To Housing Row


Palestinian laborers walk near houses under construction in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beitar Ilit, near Bethlehem, on March 8.

Palestinian laborers walk near houses under construction in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beitar Ilit, near Bethlehem, on March 8.

The United States says it is still waiting for a "formal" response from Israel to U.S. concerns over the Israeli announcement that it will build hundreds of new homes for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem.

The State Department said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made specific demands of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about the settlement project, and about showing Israeli commitment to U.S.-mediated indirect peace talks with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu told the Israeli parliament on March 15 that "for the past 40 years, no Israeli government ever limited construction in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem."

Later the same day, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Washington was still waiting for Israel's response to Clinton.

He added that Israel remains a strategic ally of the United States, and that the U.S. commitment to Israel's security remains "unshakeable."

U.S. officials have previously condemned as an "insult" to Washington the Israeli announcement during a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden of plans to build 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem.

compiled from agency reports
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