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Israel feeling rising anger from the U.S. over housing demands

WASHINGTON — An ill-timed municipal housing announcement in Jerusalem has mutated into one of the most serious conflicts between the United States and Israel in two decades, leaving a politically embarrassed Israeli government scrambling to respond to a tough list of demands by the Obama administration.

The Obama administration has put Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a difficult political spot at home by insisting that the Israeli government halt a plan to build housing units in East Jerusalem. The administration also wants Netanyahu to commit to substantive negotiations with the Palestinians, after more than a year in which the peace process has been moribund.

With the administration’s special envoy, George J. Mitchell, suddenly delaying his planned trip to Israel, the administration was expecting a call from Netanyahu, after a tense exchange last week with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

On Monday, however, Netanyahu sounded a defiant note, telling the Israeli parliament that construction of Jewish housing in Jerusalem was not a matter for negotiation.

He is struggling to balance an increasingly unhappy ally in Washington with the restive right wing of his coalition government.

Boston Scientific voluntarily halts defibrillator sales

Boston Scientific vowed when it acquired Guidant in 2006 for $26 billion that it would rebuild the troubled producer of implantable heart defibrillators into a new model of industry safety and public transparency.

But on Monday, Boston Scientific halted defibrillator sales, saying it had failed to properly notify the Food and Drug Administration about two recent manufacturing changes to the devices. The company also voluntarily withdrew all of its defibrillators from hospital shelves.

Recently, a leading heart device researcher said that the company’s devices might pose a potential risk to patients because of the way a component was constructed. The company had rebutted that charge.

It was not clear on Monday whether the company’s failure to notify the FDA involved significant issues or simply paperwork violations, because Boston Scientific did not describe them. A company spokesman also declined to elaborate, other than to say that it did not involve safety-related issues.

Ray Elliott, the company’s president and chief executive, said: “We are acting voluntarily and expeditiously to resolve this situation, and we have seen no evidence of risk to patients.”