For now, Israel postpones vote on new East Jerusalem homes : The Tribune India

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For now, Israel postpones vote on new East Jerusalem homes

Jerusalem: Israel pulled back from approving hundreds of new homes for Israelis in annexed East Jerusalem on Wednesday. The projects, in areas Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and which Palestinians seek as part of a future state, are part of building activity the UN Security Council demanded an end to on Friday in a resolution made possible by a US abstention.

For now, Israel postpones vote on new East Jerusalem homes

Construction workers at a building site of new housing units in the Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov. AFP



Jerusalem, December 28 

Israel pulled back from approving hundreds of new homes for Israelis in annexed East Jerusalem on Wednesday. The projects, in areas Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and which Palestinians seek as part of a future state, are part of building activity the UN Security Council demanded an end to on Friday in a resolution made possible by a US abstention.

With applications for 492 building permits in the urban settlements of Ramot and Ramat Shlomo on its agenda, members of Jerusalem city hall’s Planning and Building committee said a planned vote was cancelled at PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s request.

A spokesman for the Israeli leader declined immediate comment. Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, called on Israel “to take the high ground and declare a cessation of settlement activities, including East Jerusalem, so we can give the peace process the chance it deserves by the resumption of meaningful negotiations”.

Washington’s move at the United Nations broke a longstanding policy of diplomatic shielding of Israel by the United States.

Condemned by Israel as “shameful”, it was widely seen as a parting shot by President Barack Obama against Netanyahu and his pro-settlement policies.

The two leaders have had a rocky relationship, divided over the decades-old Israeli policy of building Jewish settlements in occupied territory as well as on how to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

Washington considers the settlement activity illegitimate and most countries view it as an obstacle to peace. Israel disagrees, citing a biblical, historical and political connection to the land, which the Palestinians also claim, as well as security interests.

Some 570,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem amid mounting international concern that a two-state solution to the dispute is in jeopardy, with peace talks stalled since 2014. 

Ir Amim, a group which opposes Israeli settlement in occupied territory where Palestinians seek to establish a state, said the committee nonetheless permitted construction of a four-storey building for settlers in Silwan, a Palestinian neighbourhood where they have been expanding their enclave.

“Today, while attention has been focused on the removal of ... building permits ... the committee proceeded to approve a controversial project in one of the most flammable neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem,” Ir Amim said in a statement. — Reuters

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