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Settlement row unresolved as Netanyahu leaves US


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on his way home after failing to resolve a row with Washington over the construction of Jewish settlements. This is despite having extended his stay in the United States capital.

After multiple meetings with senior US officials, including an unexpected second round of talks with President Barack Obama at the White House, Netanyahu has been unable to resolve the row over the construction of 1,600 new settler homes in East Jerusalem.

Ahead of his departure, the Israeli leader met with US envoy George Mitchell in his hotel for one last round of talks.

But Netanyahu cancelled interviews with reporters, Israeli media said, and he had none of the customary public appearances with US officials during his trip.

Obama asked Netanyahu during two high-stakes meetings late Tuesday to take specific "confidence-building" steps to boost indirect talks Washington is trying to arrange with the Palestinians.

"There are areas of agreement. There are areas of disagreement, and that conversation is ongoing," White House official Robert Gibbs said.

Netanyahu's office yesterday said the two rounds of talks between the key
allies had unfolded in a "good atmosphere

The Israeli leader on Tuesday made clear that US demands for a settlement freeze could delay the resumption of Middle East peace talks for a year, a day after a fiery speech in which he said: "Jerusalem is not a settlement."