JERUSALEM, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Eli Yishai have expressed regrets over an East Jerusalem construction plan whose announcement has dealt a fatal blow to the newly-renewed indirect talks between the Jewish state and the Palestinians.
A planning committee of the Interior Ministry declared on Tuesday night that it had approved a project to build 1,600 new housing units in a Jewish neighborhood in the disputed section of the holy city, in a move that drew swift and strong condemnation from the international community and some domestic parties, embarrassed visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and infuriated the Palestinians.
Amid waves of criticism, Netanyhu on Wednesday summoned Yishai and "expressed his displeasure at the timing of the announcement of another stage in the planning process of a Jerusalem building project," said a statement issued Thursday by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
"In light of the ongoing disagreement between Israel and the U.S. on building in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu said there was no need to advance the planning process this week and instructed Interior Minister Yishai to adopt procedures to prevent such an incident from recurring," said the PMO statement.
The statement added that Netanyahu also expressed his regret over the unfortunate timing to Biden, who had just held warm talks with Israeli leaders and urged the two Mideast foes to take bold strides toward permanent peace hours before the plan went public. Later that night, Biden was reportedly one hour and a half late for a dinner with Netanyahu.