His comments come two days after the European Union, Britain and France condemned the Interior Ministry’s approval of a plan to build almost 800 new housing units in Gilo, a southern Jerusalem neighborhood beyond the 1967 Green Line.
“We are not imposing any restrictions on construction in Jerusalem. It is our capital,” Netanyahu said. He added Israel has a connection to Jerusalem as “ancient and powerful” as other states do to their capital.
Gilo is part of the city captured during the 1967 Six Day War and subsequently annexed to Israel proper, a move contested by the international community and the Palestinians.
Also on Sunday, Netanyahu expressed hope that the recommendations of the Levy report, a state-sponsored document that advised legalization of illegal West Bank outposts, would be implemented, but said that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein was holding up the process, Haaretz reported.
Weinstein, according to Army Radio, is not happy with the legal phrasing of the report and feels that implementation of its recommendations during the election period would be detrimental to the democratic process.
The fate of Jerusalem and the West Bank lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians refuse to negotiate while Israel continues to build settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, over the objection of Palestinians who claim the territory as a capital of their hoped-for state.
Israel captured both areas in the 1967 Six Day War. Netanyahu has rejected the notion of partitioning the city, although that was one of the provisions of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which envisioned a two-state, two-capital solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.