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Israel lifts restrictions on building more homes in East Jerusalem

Settlement constructions by Israel continues in east Jerusalem [Daniel Bar On/Anadolu]
Settlement constructions by Israel continues in east Jerusalem [Daniel Bar On/Anadolu]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told senior ministers he is lifting restrictions on settlement building in East Jerusalem, a statement said on Sunday, immediately after the city’s municipal government approved permits for the building of hundreds of new homes in the area.

“There is no longer a need to coordinate construction in the Jewish neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. We can build where we want and as much as we want,” the statement quoted Netanyahu as saying, adding that he also intended to allow the start of building in the West Bank.

“My vision is to enact sovereignty over all the settlements,” the statement also said, pointing to Netanyahu’s apparent bid to win greater support from settlers and appeal to a right-wing coalition partner.

Netanyahu told the ministers of the move at a meeting where they also decided unanimously to postpone discussing a bill proposing the Israeli annexation of the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, home to 40,000 Israelis near Jerusalem.

A brief statement issued after the discussion by the ministerial forum known as the Security Cabinet, said work on the bill would be delayed until after Netanyahu meets the new US President, Donald Trump.

Netanyahu held his first phone conversation with the president on Sunday, saying afterwards that the conversation had been “very warm” and that he had been invited to a meeting with Trump in Washington in February.

“Many matters face us. The Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria, the Iranian threat,” Netanyahu said in remarks broadcast at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile the housing projects approved by the Jerusalem municipality on Sunday are on land that the Palestinians seek as part of a future state and had been taken off the agenda in December at Netanyahu’s request to avoid further censure from Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.

However, Israel’s right wing believes that Trump’s attitude towards settlements built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem — areas Israel captured in the 1967 war — will be far more supportive than that of Obama.

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 not recognised internationally.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement that the eight years of the Obama administration had been “difficult with pressure … to freeze construction” but that Israel was now entering a new era.

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 US 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 last week.

Before taking over as president, Trump also pledged to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and has nominated as new US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who is seen as a supporter of settlements.

Israel views all Jerusalem as its capital, but most of the world considers its final status a matter for peace negotiations. The Palestinians have said that an embassy move would kill any prospect for peace. Negotiations broke down in 2014.

Commentators in Israel have said it is too early to tell what Trump’s policy on these matters will actually be although the White House said on Sunday it was in the early stages of talks to fulfill Trump’s pledge.

“We are at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement.

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

    Obama was so brave and bold to remind Netanyahu during his UN speech of the wrongness of Palestinian occupation. Just remember he doesn’t have to run again for office. He is still the coward that empowered Israel for the next 10 years and the last slaughter of Palestinians. The nations of the world have shown that in their minds,”MIGHT MAKES RIGHT”, with its inability to punish Israel, in any manner at all. The insight by North Korea has proven right. They are 2nd to Israel in human rights abuses and have successfully developed the bomb and soon the ability to reach us in the United States. THE TRUE REALITY FOR PALESTINIANS IS FAR WORSE THAN THE SO CALLED LIES FROM ABBAS. Those who do nothing and need more evidence than what already exist, ARE AS SICK AS THE REPUBLICANS IN THE UNITED STATES. NOTHING IS GOING TO BE WORSE, I HOPE, THAN OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE. I BELIEVE THEY ARE ALL COWARDS. The Palestinians don’t even have weapons to defend themselves. A slaughter is very accurate description of the IDF and Operation Protective Edge. NORTH KOREA CREEPS CLOSER AND CLOSER AND NETANYAHU KILLS MORE AND MORE. Democrats can’t even use the word occupation. AIPAC is so powerful, most candidates shudder at what their support or lack of can mean to their future.

    Palestine enjoys non-member observer state status in the United Nations and is recognized by 137 UN members.

  • Gary Lawrence

    Danny Danon who is going to chair the General Assembly’s legal panel,
    engaging on questions of international law, is particularly opposed
    to all legally binding resolutions of the UNSC and farther right-wing
    than Netanyahu. Danon’s chairmanship of the Sixth Committee isn’t a
    confused United Nations, it sadly doesn’t even fly in the face of
    reality for U.N. that has done nothing but talk about Israel’s
    Case in point, Netanyahu is willing to pay the victims aboard the
    Mavi Mamara, 10 Turkish civilians carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza,
    if they will not testify against him. Isn’t that an admission of
    Richard Falk, the former UN Special Rapporteur, said the appointment of Danon was “particularly ironic because he is a militant settler leader and the settlements themselves are a violation of international law.” and it just isn’t going to be David Pressman to stand up for justice for humanity or AGAINST the crimes of Israel.

  • Gary Lawrence

    Israel is a Rogue Nation committing serious violations of
    international law. The Washington, DC-based Israel Law Resource
    Center, reports such violations include collective punishment,
    apartheid barriers, illegal acquisition of land by force, ethnic
    cleansing, Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory—and disregard
    of some 28 resolutions of the UN Security Council. These are
    violation of human rights, recognized around the world. BDS brings
    awareness and a call for action, that has a real track record of
    success. Stephen Hawking says, “anyone can answer big questions.” Stephen Hawking has joined BDS and will not speak in Israel. Stop a mad man, who will keep replacing those who have a conscience, with those hardliners who have war crimes, as a mind set, like himself.

  • Gary Lawrence


  • 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

    A way to get Palestine as a permanent [member] in the UN is don’t veto Palestine’s membership in the Security Council. Trump will not be able to change what the UN has done. Again and again, Obama has the power shape the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before a change in presidents and Israel becomes incorporated into the UN and controls it’s FUTURE decisions.

    Palestine enjoys non-member observer state status in the United Nations and is recognized by 137 UN members. A short window for President Obama to extend recognition of Palestine and continue his brave comments, BACKED WITH REAL ACTION.

    Robert Piper, UN coordinator for humanitarian aid and development activities said,”Targeting the most vulnerable of the vulnerable and preventing them from receiving relief – especially as winter sets in – is unacceptable and runs counter to Israel’s obligations as an occupying power,”

    There is systematic violation of the rights of the Palestinian people, including demolition of homes, forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, arrest and detention of Palestinians, including children, and incessant violence, terror and provocations by Israeli settlers and extremists, including at sensitive religious sites. Obama has always had the ability to put justice for all on the right path. I can only hope he will act before it is too late. When overtaken by crisis, the wise search their hearts for inner strengths, in order to face the world with courage. Courage often means daring to take the unexpected path and Obama really put justice a step closer.