Israeli PM freezes construction project in East Jerusalem
Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put on ice a project for the construction of some 900 apartments in occupied East Jerusalem, Israel Channel 10 television reported late Wednesday.
His order to freeze the project followed intense US pressure and comes a day after he held long-delayed talks in Jerusalem with US President Barack Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell.
The houses were planned to be built in Pisgat Ze'ev, one of several Jewish neighbourhoods of Jerusalem built on occupied territory - beyond the "green" armistice line separating Israel from the West Bank.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem - those districts of the city to the east of the green line - to be the capital of their future state.
Israel captured East Jerusalem, including the historic Old City with its Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian quarters, and the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war.
It has since annexed East Jerusalem, and Netanyahu, of the hardline Likud party who took office in March, has vowed he will not re-divide the city.
The previous Israeli government of centrist premier Ehud Olmert made no secret of its continued construction in Jewish settlements in and around East Jerusalem. Unlike Netanyahu, Olmert however had called for handing over Arab neighbourhoods of the city to Palestinian sovereignty.