Israel cancels vote on new settlements
Jerusalem’s city hall canceled 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.
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 long-standing approach of diplomatically shielding Israel and abstained on the Security Council resolution, which passed with 14 countries in favor and none against.
Kerry was scheduled to discuss the abstention when he speaks at the State Department, a senior US State Department official said.
Israel has for decades pur- sued a policy of building Jewish settlements on 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.