China Daily

Israel approves 566 more settler homes


Israeli authoritie­s on Sunday approved building permits for 566 settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem, plans that had been postponed until US President Donald Trump took office, the city’s deputy mayor said.

Meir Turjeman told AFP that city officials approved the plans that had been previously postponed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request in the wake of a UN Security Council resolution in December against Israeli settlement building.

Turjeman said plans for some 11,000 other homes were also in process in east Jerusalem, though he did not say when they could be moved forward.

The new permits are for homes in the settlement neighborho­ods of Pi sgatZe ev, Ramot and Ramat Shlomo, according to Turjeman, who also heads the planning committee that approved them.

“The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump’ s arrival as president,” he said.

“We no longer have our hands tied as in the time of Barack Obama. Now we can finally build.”

Netanyahu said on Sunday he was to speak with Trump later in the day, their first conversati­on since the billionair­e businessma­n took office.

Trump has pledged strong support for Israel and vowed during his campaign to recognize Jerusalem as the country’s capital despite the city’s contested status.

Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting that he planned to discuss with Trump the conflict with the Palestinia­ns, Syria and “the Iranian threat”.

Israeli right-wing politician­s have welcomed Trump’s election, with hardliners who oppose a Palestinia­n state hoping it will allow them to move forward with their goal of annexing most of the occupied West Bank.

Hardline Israeli ministers are also pushing to annex a large Jewish settlement near Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, a move many say would badly damage prospects for a two-state solution.

Netanyahu also strongly opposed the nuclear deal between Israel’s arch-foe Iran and global powers, including the United States. Trump criticised the nuclear deal during his campaign.

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