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East Jerusalem construction frozen

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East Jerusalem construction frozenThe Israeli government has effectively frozen new Jewish construction in Jerusalem's disputed eastern sector, municipal officials said Monday. The decision was made despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's public insistence that building would not be stopped in the face of U.S. pressure.

It remained unclear if the slowdown constituted a formal moratorium or how long it would last, but the move reflected Netanyahu's need to mend a serious rift with the U.S. over Israeli construction on lands the Palestinians claim for a future state as Washington tries to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

An Israeli government official claimed a weekslong delay in reviewing plans for new construction was nothing more than a bureaucratic issue. Nonetheless, signs of the freeze drew angry criticism from hard-line lawmakers, including a member of Netanyahu's own party who warned the government could collapse over the matter.

Construction in east Jerusalem has been a major sticking point since Israel infuriated Washington last month by announcing a major new east Jerusalem housing development during a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

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