Netanyahu: Israeli Construction in East Jerusalem Is Justified

Netanyahu tells ABC that Palestinian demand that Israel stop building in settlements is 'unacceptable.'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Monday that Israel would not accept Palestinian demands that it stop building settlements in East Jerusalem.

Appearing in an interview broadcast Monday on ABC's Good Morning America, Netanyahu called the Palestinian demand that Israel stop building in settlements "unacceptable" and said this long-standing Israeli government position is not his alone, but rather dates to governments led by Golda Meir, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin.

Netanyahu has sought to minimize differences with U.S. President Barack Obama over the Middle East peace process. But he acknowledged on Monday that "we have some outstanding issues. We're trying to resolve them through diplomatic channels in the best way that we can."

During the interview, Netanyahu also urged the United States and the world to impose "crippling sanctions" on refined petroleum on Iran to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon.

"If you stop Iran from importing refined petroleum - that's a fancy word for gasoline - then Iran simply doesn't have refining capacity and this regime comes to a halt," Netanyahu said on the morning program.

The U.S. is leading a push in the United Nations to apply another round of sanctions against Iran in an effort to stop it from pursuing a nuclear program that Western nations believe is aimed at building atomic weapons.

Tehran says its program is designed to produce electricity for civilian use.

Calling the standoff with Iran "the biggest issue facing our times," Netanyahu said the international community could deliver "crippling sanctions," without the support of China and Russia, both permanent members of the UN Security Council.

"You're left doing it outside the Security Council," Netanyahu said. "There's a coalition of the willing and you can have very powerful sanctions."

Asked whether Obama had given assurances Washington would go along with refined oil sanctions and other restrictions, Netanyahu said: "What the United States has said is that they're determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and I think that's an important statement."

The Israeli leader said his country would prefer that the international community led by the United States stop Iran's nuclear program.

Netanyahu acknowledged that relations between the United States and Israel have gone through a bumpy patch lately, but he said the overall relationship between the two countries remained "rock solid."