Israel’s Jerusalem municipality has reportedly cancelled plans to vote on approving the construction of new Israeli settlement units, in occupied East Jerusalem, that were initially put forward to defy a new United Nations Security Council resolution, which has reaffirmed that Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law.
According to a report from Reuters, the decision to cancel the vote came to avoid further strain on diplomatic relations with the US, who allowed the resolution to pass with an abstention, as US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to give a speech addressing the resolution and his vision for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general, later Wednesday.
Meanwhile, according to Ma’an, US President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday, to assure Israel to “stay strong” until Jan. 20, when he will be sworn into office for the US presidency, as Trump has supported Israel in condemning the resolution and the current Obama administration for not using its veto power at the UN Security Council, to block it from passing.
The US abstained from voting on the resolution, while all other UNSC members unanimously voting in favor of it.
In the days following its passage, reports emerged that Israel’s Local Planning and Building Committee in Jerusalem municipality was expected to approve thousands of housing units in occupied East Jerusalem for illegal settlements.
Israel Hayom reported that the committee would approve 2,600 housing units in the settlement of Gilo, 2,600 others in Givat HaMatos, and 400 units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement.
However, newer reports said that the coming plans would have been only for the approval of 492 building permits in Ramot and Ramat Shlomo.
Members of the Jerusalem committee told Reuters, Wednesday, that the cancellation of the vote came at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request, out of fear that the approval of the new settlements would have given Kerry “ammunition before the speech.”
However, the construction plans were just one aspect of the resolution’s fallout, with the Netanyahu government also calling for an end to all non-security related coordination with the Palestinian Authority, and drastically limiting diplomatic ties with UNSC members states.
Meanwhile, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett again called for the total annexation of the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, as well as the entirety of Area C in the West Bank — the more than 60 percent of the territory currently under full Israeli military and civil control.
Human rights groups and international leaders have strongly condemned Israel’s settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, claiming it is a strategic maneuver to prevent the establishment of a contiguous, independent Palestinian state by changing the facts on the ground, while members of Israel’s parliament have repeatedly come forward announcing their support for annexing Area C.
A recent report by human rights group B’Tselem argued that under the guise of a “temporary military occupation,” Israel has been “using the land as its own: robbing land, exploiting the area’s natural resources for its own benefit and establishing permanent settlements,” estimating that Israel had dispossessed Palestinians from some 200,000 hectares (494,211 acres) of lands in the occupied Palestinian territory, over the years.
B’Tselem highlighted the “key role” of Israeli settlers in further isolating Palestinians from their lands, either through the establishment of outposts officially unrecognized by the Israeli government, or through the regular use of violence or threats of violence against Palestinians.
The movement of Israeli settlers taking over Palestinian land, and further displacing the local Palestinian population has been a “stable” Israeli policy since the takeover of the West Bank and Jerusalem in 1967, B’Tselem reported, underscoring that all “Israeli legislative, legal, planning, funding, and defense bodies” have played an active role in the dispossession of Palestinians from their lands.
(PNN archive image)
For further analysis on the new resolution, see: 12/24/16 UN Security Council Adopts Resolution Against Illegal Israeli Settlements?