Sep 11, 6:48 AM EDT

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Conflict in the Middle East

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel's prime minister has marked the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by saying his country stands by its "greatest ally, the United States of America."

Benjamin Netanyahu's comments Sunday came two days after a rare American rebuke for statements in which he insisted settlements were not an obstacle to peace and that Palestinians wanted the "ethnic cleansing" of Jews in the West Bank.

Israel has been widely criticized for building Jewish settlements in territories captured in the 1967 Mideast war, land the Palestinians want for a future state. Netanyahu said it was outrageous that the Palestinians demand this state be free of Jews and it was "even more outrageous that the world doesn't find this outrageous."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said such terminology was "inappropriate and unhelpful."

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