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Israel approves hundreds of settlement homes in East Jerusalem

The Ramat Shlomo settlement, located on Palestinian lands in East Jerusalem, seen on December 29, 2016 [Daniel Bar On / Anadolu Agency]
The Ramat Shlomo settlement, located on Palestinian lands in East Jerusalem, seen on December 29, 2016 [Daniel Bar On / Anadolu Agency]

Israel approved building permits on Sunday for hundreds of homes in three East Jerusalem settlements, two days after US President Donald Trump took office, expecting him to row back on the last administration’s criticism of such projects.

The housing projects, on land that the Palestinians seek as part of a future state, had been taken off the Jerusalem municipality’s agenda in December at the last minute at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in order to avoid further censure from the administration of Barack Obama.

Israel’s right-wing expects Trump’s attitude towards settlements built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war, to be far more supportive than that of his predecessor.

Netanyahu said he would hold his first conversation with Trump since he took office, by telephone on Sunday. “Many matters face us, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria, the Iranian threat,” he said in broadcast remarks at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting.

Jerusalem’s City Hall approved the building permits for more than 560 units in the urban settlements of Pisgat Zeev, Ramat Shlomo and Ramot, areas annexed to Jerusalem in a move unrecognised internationally.

Meir Turgeman, the chairman of the municipality’s Planning and Building committee, told Israel Radio that the permits had been held up until the end of the Obama administration.

“I was told to wait until Trump takes office because he has no problem with building in Jerusalem,” Turgeman said, adding there were hundreds more units waiting for approval.

The Palestinians denounced the move. “We strongly condemn the Israeli decision to approve the construction,” Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters.

In its final weeks, the Obama administration angered the Israeli government by withholding a traditional U.S. veto of an anti-settlement resolution at the United Nations Security Council, enabling the measure to pass.

Trump’s nominee to be US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, echoed his condemnation of the world body over its treatment of Israel at her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

In a proposal that has drawn a Palestinian outcry, Trump has also pledged to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Israel sees all Jerusalem as is its capital but most of the world does not, seeing its final status as a matter for peace negotiations. The Palestinians have said an embassy move would kill any prospect for peace. Negotiations broke down in 2014.

Trump has also appointed a new US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who is considered a settlements supporter.

Commentators in Israel have said it was too early to tell what Trump’s policy on these matters will actually be once he takes office.

Most countries consider settlement activity illegal and 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.

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  • Gary Lawrence

    Benjamin Netanyahu and his Israeli soldiers are known liars as president Obama was caught saying in response to another foreign leaders same disgust.
    ISRAEL MONITORS PEOPLES COMMENTS ON FACEBOOK AGAINST ISRAEL. WHEN
    WILL THEY START TARGETING PEOPLE WORLD WIDE. DON’T FORGET PRISONER
    X. Prisoner X was being held under administrative detention. They
    weren’t going to tell anyone about him. And we will never know if he
    woke up and Israhell or just couldn’t be trusted. He wasn’t Israeli.
    YOU COULD SAY THEY ALREADY TARGET PEOPLE WORLD WIDE, SINCE THOSE
    PEOPLE WHO CRITICIZE ISRAEL ARE OFTEN REFUSED ENTRY TO ISRAEL. Israel may soon be expelling people who support BDS. Netanyahu is creating a group which will monitor and identify those supporting BDS in Israel.BDS is just the beginning of the road to LOCKUP, PROSECUTE, and EXECUTE, Netanyahu and THOSE IDF, POLICE, and ISRAELIS guilty of WAR CRIMES. That is not the goal of BDS. Just a logical progression, I believe we should SEE. Every one of his generals will never dare leave Israel.
    Two nations of the world have a bounty on his head, inch by inch, if necessary. We all know the United States and many other nations should be on board. Is it time to take action against Netanyahu’s Israel??? Stephen Hawking says, “anyone can answer big questions.”
    Stephen Hawking has joined BDS and will not speak in Israel. Stop the cold blooded killer, Netanyahu, who will keep replacing those who have a conscience, with those hardliners who have war crimes as a mindset like himself.

  • Gary Lawrence

    I’m for BDS, but my local market sold jars of Israeli fish balls,$8.50 each, for $1.99,on clearance. I bought 6 jars with no regrets except one must believe if the Palestinians were allowed to fish, theirs would be much cheaper, to begin with. Does it exemplify the true reality that the occupation is about money now, and down the line for Netanyahu, and the Israelis? I think it is fair to ask when did killing, and imprisoning Palestinians become part of the business of income for Israel? Just like in the movie, The Island, we see a man and a privileged people abusing what has been given to them.

  • Gary Lawrence

    RELIGIOUS ZEALOTS will never agree on what is right. What do I mean by RELIGIOUS ZEALOTS? I mean in the United States we separate religion from politics, because your religious beliefs are another man’s lies. We all can and have agreed that the mind of man can be common ground, thus the United Nations and International Law. That is why Israel is guilty of war crimes, agreed before Israel committed them. And Netanyahu will be tried in a court of law, executed, and the world will be far better off without his RELIGIOUS ZEALOT finger on the BOMB.

    Senator McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Paul Ryan are three cowards who can’t win an election to the top office because they don’t have the personal integrity when it comes to admitting Israel is a nation committing war crimes and the brutal occupier of the Palestinian people. They both made sure the occupation of Palestine was not part of the Republican platform. Why did they do that? Because better the American people are deaf, dumb, and blind than be exposed to the brutal occupation of the Palestinian people.

    You won’t hear such insights about the power of AIPAC from PBS. Judy Woodruff will rub it in when Palestinians strike back at their oppressors and never speak of the brutal occupation, administrative detention, and or young children, boys and girls as young as 12 years of age put in prison with adults. Those children are subject to torture, interrogations without representation or even an adult or parent present. Scumbag is a good word for Netanyahu and what the IDF represent.RELIGIOUS ZEALOTS will never agree on what is right and what is wrong. They live in a vacuum created for them long before they had a brain to understand the current world we live in.

  • Gary Lawrence

    I’VE SAID IT BEFORE, HE IS A CRIMINAL AND CRIMINALS MAY ACT LIKE YOUR FRIEND AND SHOOT YOU IN THE BACK. Let’s not forget, NETANYAHU is under investigation FOR CRIMINAL ACTIVITY by ISRAEL’S ATTORNEY GENERAL. People need to see the videos exposing Netanyahu’s lies!!! The truth has never had any real meaning for him and maybe for Trump. One day he is for a two-state solution and out of his mouth comes, “there will never be a two-state solution”, during his re-election campaign.

  • Gary Lawrence

    One can’t imagine that there are minds that would cover for another’s by committing the same act.
    Take the US military bombing of the hospital in Afghanistan or comments by Trump with his unilateral support for Israel. These are shocking events given the realities on the ground. I’VE SAID IT BEFORE, HE IS A CRIMINAL AND CRIMINALS MAY ACT LIKE YOUR FRIEND AND then SHOOT YOU IN THE BACK. Let’s not forget, NETANYAHU is under investigation FOR CRIMINAL ACTIVITY by ISRAEL’S ATTORNEY GENERAL. People need to see the videos exposing Netanyahu’s lies!!! The truth has never had any real meaning for him and maybe for Trump. One day he is for a two-state solution and out of his mouth comes, “there will never be a two-state solution”, during his re-election campaign. When Obama was president-elect, Israel was engaged in a massacre in Gaza, 2008, and 2009. Obama elect, blocked any form of international accountability, trashed the Goldstone report an independent U.N. inquiry. In 2014 when Israel attacked Gaza, Obama actually rearmed Israel while bombs fell on Gaza and then blocked any form of international accountability. (577 children were slaughtered)Trump must have been pleased with Obama.
    The UN hasn’t prosecuted Israel’s war crimes or Obama’s, who assassinated
    an American Teenager without a trial. Miko Peled, Israeli peace activist, says
    “America is in collusion with Israel,” ignoring crimes the country commits as well as their potential nuclear
    weapons program.