Is­rael ap­proves set­tler build­ing in Jerusalem

Trump con­demns ‘dis­re­spect’ of Is­rael

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

JERUSALEM: Is­rael ap­proved con­struc­tion of a multi-storey build­ing for set­tlers in an­nexed East Jerusalem yes­ter­day, an NGO said, af­ter post­pon­ing au­tho­riza­tion of hun­dreds of other homes ahead of a speech on the Mid­dle East by the US sec­re­tary of state. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­voked the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment’s fury on Fri­day by fail­ing to block the pas­sage of an anti-set­tle­ment res­o­lu­tion in the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry was to give fur­ther voice to in­ter­na­tional op­po­si­tion to set­tle­ments in an ad­dress that a State Depart­ment of­fi­cial said would lay out his vi­sion for end­ing the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict. US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump has joined Is­raeli lead­ers in at­tack­ing the out­go­ing Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s move at the UN. “We can­not con­tinue to let Is­rael be treated with such to­tal dis­dain and dis­re­spect. They used to have a great friend in the US, but not any­more,” Trump, a Repub­li­can, wrote in a new Twit­ter post­ing. “Stay strong Is­rael, Jan­uary 20th is fast ap­proach­ing!, Trump said, cit­ing the day he takes of­fice. Hours be­fore Kerry’s speech, a Jerusalem mu­nic­i­pal com­mit­tee pulled back from ap­prov­ing 492 new homes for Is­raelis in East Jerusalem, an area that Is­rael cap­tured along with the West Bank in the 1967 Arab-Is­raeli war. The chair­man of the com­mit­tee and one of its mem­bers said Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu had asked for the vote to be de­layed, con­cerned ap­proval for those projects would add am­mu­ni­tion to Kerry’s ex­pected anti-set­tle­ment ar­gu­ments.

A spokesman for the Is­raeli leader de­clined to make im­me­di­ate com­ment. The panel meets reg­u­larly and the build­ing projects that were re­moved from the agenda yes­ter­day could come up for a vote in the fu­ture. 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 neigh­bor­hood 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 neigh­bor­hoods in East Jerusalem,” Ir Amim said in a state­ment. In his speech, Kerry was to dis­cuss Wash­ing­ton’s with­hold­ing of its Se­cu­rity Coun­cil veto in the 14-0 vote that called for a halt to Is­raeli set­tle­ment ac­tiv­ity in the oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries. Saeb Erekat, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion, 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 its long­stand­ing pol­icy of diplo­matic shield­ing of Is­rael. 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 Iran arm­ing it­self with nu­clear weapons.

Wash­ing­ton con­sid­ers the set­tle­ment ac­tiv­ity il­le­git­i­mate and most coun­tries view it as an ob­sta­cle to peace. Is­rael cites 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 twostate so­lu­tion to the dis­pute is in jeop­ardy, with peace talks stalled since 2014. — Reuters

JERUSALEM: A gen­eral view taken yes­ter­day shows Is­raeli con­struc­tion cranes and ex­ca­va­tors at a build­ing site of new hous­ing units in the Jewish set­tle­ment of Neve Yaakov in the north­ern area of east Jerusalem. — AFP

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