MIDDLE EAST

U.S. Envoy Delays Israel Visit

With Israel refusing to budge on its decision to build 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, U.S. special envoy George Mitchell is suspending plans to visit to Israel because the administration believes negotiations could be a waste of time. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted the construction will go ahead, despite last week’s diplomatic faux pas—Israel announced the inflammatory project as Vice President Joe Biden arrived to moderate peace talks with Palestine. “What happened to the vice president in Israel was unprecedented,” a senior administration official told The New York Times. “Where it goes from here depends on the Israelis.” The U.S. is now insisting that the upcoming peace talks must include promises from Israel to cease construction and for a “substantial gesture” toward the Palestinians. Meanwhile, Palestinians took to the streets in East Jerusalem on Tuesday to protest Israel’s plans. Israel police in riot gear were deployed to counteract the demonstrators, who threw stones and blocked traffic.