Netanyahu Says Progress Made with US in Reviving Peace Process

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ended a visit to the U.S., saying he has made some progress in resolving a dispute with the Obama administration about Israel's construction plans in East Jerusalem.

Mr. Netanyahu was speaking early Thursday as boarded a plane to fly back to Israel. Although no breakthroughs were announced during his three day visit, the Israeli leader said he thinks his government has found a "golden" path to move the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward while maintaining Israel's national interests.

Earlier, the White House said Mr. Obama had asked Mr. Netanyahu during talks Tuesday to "take steps to build confidence" for indirect Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that Washington has offered to mediate.

Israeli officials say Mr. Netanyahu delayed his return to Israel to try to reach a consensus on confidence-building measures.

On Monday, Mr. Netanyahu insisted Israel has a right to build in all of Jerusalem, including the occupied eastern sector that Palestinians claim as a future capital. The U.S. opposes such activity.

Before leaving Washington, Mr. Netanyahu held talks at his hotel with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell in what reports described as a last-ditch effort to resolve the U.S.-Israeli dispute.

Tensions between the two close allies erupted earlier this month when Israel announced a plan to build 1,600 new homes for Jews in East Jerusalem. The plan drew condemnation from the White House, the European Union, the United Nations and Palestinians. U.S. officials say that the Israeli plan could prejudge a final peace deal.

Israeli media reported Tuesday that authorities in Jerusalem recently gave final approval for a separate plan to build 20 homes for Jews in another part of East Jerusalem. Israel initially approved the plan to partially redevelop a vacant hotel in the Sheikh Jarrah district last year.

Mr. Netanyahu's office said Wednesday Jews and Arabs have a right to buy and sell private property freely in Jerusalem.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon denounced the Sheikh Jarrah project as illegal under international law, saying all Israeli settlement activity must stop.

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