Israel pulls back from approving new East Jerusalem homes ahead of Kerry speech

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office December 25, 2016. REUTERS/Dan Balilty/Pool

Jerusalem’s city hall cancelled a vote on Wednesday on applications to build nearly 500 new homes for Israelis in East Jerusalem, a municipal official said, plans that had drawn US criticism in a raging dispute over settlements.

The proposed settlement is part of building activity that the UN Security Council demanded an end to on Friday, a resolution that a US abstention made possible.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the decision be put off, said Jerusalem Planning and Housing Committee member Hanan Rubin, hours before US Secretary of State John Kerry is to give a speech laying out his vision for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Read more: Israeli ambassador backs Trump pledge to move US embassy to Jerusalem

A spokesman for Netanyahu had no immediate comment.

Rubin said 492 permits for construction of homes for Israelis in the urban settlements of Ramot and Ramat Shlomo, in areas that Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed to Jerusalem, had been up for approval.

The United States on Friday broke with a longstanding approach of diplomatically shielding Israel and abstained on the Security Council resolution, which passed with 14 countries in favour and none against.

Kerry will discuss the abstention when he speaks at the State Department at 11 a.m. ET (1600 GMT), a senior State Department official told reporters on Tuesday.

The speech will also address what the official called “misleading” accusations by Israeli officials that the Obama administration drafted and forced the resolution to a vote.

Voting on the new building permits was removed from the committee’s agenda for the session “because of Kerry’s speech at 6 p.m. (1100 GMT). The prime minister said that while he supports construction in Jerusalem, we don’t have to inflame the situation any further,” Rubin said.

The committee meets regularly, and it could consider approving the permits at a future date.

Israel has for decades pursued a policy of building Jewish settlements in occupied territory Palestinians seek for a state.

Most countries view the settlements as an obstacle to peace. Israel disagrees, citing a biblical, historical and political connection to the land, as well as security interests. Washington considers the settlement activity illegitimate.

Some 570,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem among more than 2.6 million Palestinians.

Read more: Israel slams UNESCO over ‘Occupied Jerusalem’


  1. Zionist double standards policy has not changed for over 1400 years, this is just a ploy to delay until brainless playboy Trump takes office and then everything will be reversed.
    As long as Wahabi states and Turkey with no conscious keep normal relations with Israhell nothing is going to change!

  2. Why this hue and cry about this resolution?It is non binding. It came as no surprise. It was in the offing for atleast a year.

    • It has a lot of power, according to international law experts here in the US says that the Palestinians can take te Israelis to it I CJ. Which could be troublesome

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