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Netanyahu defends settlement push

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about further East Jerusalem building projects during his visit on December 18, 2012 in Acre, Israel.

Moshe Milner/GPO via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about further East Jerusalem building projects during his visit on December 18, 2012 in Acre, Israel.

JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister on Tuesday rejected international criticism of plans to build thousands more Jewish homes in East Jerusalem, insisting that construction will move forward.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the tough response as European diplomats were discussing plans to condemn Israel in the United Nations Security Council. A UN resolution would be the latest in a wave of angry international reactions to Israeli plans to build in areas the Palestinians claim for a future state.

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‘‘Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Israel, and we will continue to build there,’’ Netanyahu said during a visit to the northern Israeli city of Acre. He said Israelis overwhelmingly believed in ‘‘united Jerusalem,’’ referring to Jewish west Jerusalem and East Jerusalem, the section of the city captured from Jordan and annexed by Israel but claimed by the Palestinians.

Germany and three other European members of the UN Security Council prepared a statement condemning Israel’s latest settlement plans in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a European diplomatic official said Tuesday.

The so-called E4 grouping — Britain, France, Germany, and Portugal — is concerned that such settlements could threaten the possible two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, the official said.

A poll by the Dahaf agency and published Tuesday in the Haaretz daily said that 67 percent of center-left voters in Israel do not favor dividing Jerusalem — meaning handing over East Jerusalem to the Palestinians.

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