Netanyahu: I would always have built in East Jerusalem

By Jessica Elgot, March 26, 2010
Netanyahu: I will decide to build in Jerusalem, no-one does it for me.

Netanyahu: I will decide to build in Jerusalem, no-one does it for me.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied claims on Friday that right-wing members of his coalition were pushing him into building in east Jerusalem – because, he said, he would have initiated such building himself.

Mr Netanyahu’s coalition has been the subject of speculation since he returned empty-handed from an apparently disastrous meeting in Washington with US President Barack Obama.

Israeli media reports have rumoured that Mr Netanyahu could be on the verge of forming a more moderate centrist alliance, one more likely to co-operate with the United States on a freeze on building in east Jerusalem.

But Mr Netanyahu has been vehement in his denial of such claims.

He said: "I do not need coalition partners to pressure me into continuing to build in Jerusalem. I, myself, plan to continue building in Jerusalem as all previous prime ministers did before me."

"I am not building in Jerusalem just because Lieberman or Yishai are pressuring me to do so."

Before Mr Netanyahu meeting inner members of his cabinet today, several key members of the cabinet, including Benny Begin, vice premier Moshe Yaalon, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, received a letter urging them to reject Palestinian proposals.

The letter, from a Knesset group calling themselves the “Eretz Yisrael” lobby, asked the cabinet to reject any preconditions for talks with the Palestinians.

The seven inner cabinet members are meeting to discuss the outcome of Mr Netanyahu’s meeting with Mr Obama, the exact content of which is still shrouded in secrecy.

Last updated: 12:38pm, March 26 2010