| GEO World|
| Israel to continue building in east Jerusalem|
| Updated at: 1823 PST, Friday, March 26, 2010|
JERUSALEM: Israel insisted Friday it would continue construction in contested east Jerusalem, taking an uncompromising stance against U.S. pressure following a tense visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington.
The refusal to change long-standing Israeli policy signaled that a high-profile rift between the two allies remained wide, withstalled Mideast peace talks caught in the middle.
“The prime minister's position is that there is no change in Israeli policy on Jerusalem,'' Netanyahu's office said in a statement. Shortly after, he convened a previously scheduled meeting of key ministers to frame a response to Washington's demands for Israeli peace gestures.
The Obama administration says Israeli building in east Jerusalem is provocative and undermines U.S. efforts to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The Palestinians want that sector of the holy city for a future capital and view the expanding Jewish presence there as a challenge to their claim.
Netanyahu's meetings with President Barack Obama and other top U.S. officials did not appear to quell U.S. anger over a major east Jerusalem construction project whose announcement in the middle of a visit by Vice President Joe Biden touched off the worst diplomatic row between the two countries in decades.
The disclosure Wednesday that 20 new Jewish homes would be built in the heart of an Arab neighborhood in east Jerusalem only stoked the frictions.