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The Mideast

Israel Minister: Talks to Curb Settlement Construction Postponed

Israel Settlements

Dec. 2: A worker is silhouetted on a construction site in the Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev in east Jerusalem. (AP)

JERUSALEM -- Israel's defense minister says talks with Washington meant to curb settlement construction and restart negotiations with the Palestinians have been put on hold.

The U.S. has pressed Israel to renew a moratorium on new construction in exchange for security and diplomatic assurances.

Palestinians say they won't return to stalled peace talks unless Israel halts all building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem -- lands they want for part of their future state.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that talks have been postponed because Washington is busy dealing with fallout from secret documents released on the WikiLeaks website.

Peace talks began in September but ground to a halt three weeks later after a 10-month Israeli curb on West Bank building expired.