Dec 27

Israel to approve 100s of new homes in East Jerusalem in defiance of UNSC resolution – reports:

Jerusalem’s zoning committee is expected to approve construction permits for hundreds of new homes in East Jerusalem, in a move which is illegal under international law. Settlement construction was slammed by the latest resolution adopted by the UN Security Council.
The Jerusalem Local Planning and Construction Committee is expected on Wednesday to approve permits to build 618 apartments in Jewish neighborhoods across the Green Line, Haaretz reported.

Some 140 homes will be erected in Pisgat Ze’ev, 262 in Ramat Shlomo and 216 in Ramot, Haaretz reported, adding that even more permit requests for Pisgat Ze’ev and Ramot may be added before this week’s meeting.

According to other Israeli media reports, the Committee might approve as many as 5,600 homes in response to the United Nations Security Council resolution which condemned Israeli settlement activities and called for a halt to illegal construction.

The planning committee will approve 2,600 new housing units in the neighborhood of Gilo, another 2,600 units in Givat Hamatos, and 400 units in Ramat Shlomo, for a grand total of 5,600 units in East Jerusalem, reported Israel Hayom.

“We remain unfazed by the UN vote, or by any other entity that tries to dictate what we do in Jerusalem. I hope the Israeli government and the new US administration will support us, so we can make up for the lack [of construction] during the eight years of the Obama administration,” Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Meir Turgeman who heads the zoning committee told Israel Hayom.

Israel captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967. Israel subsequently annexed East Jerusalem and considers the entire city its capital. Palestine claims East Jerusalem as its future capital.

So far this year 1,506 housing units have been approved for construction in East Jerusalem, compared to 775 units in 2014 and only 395 units in 2015, Haaretz reported. But despite the UN resolution, construction is set to continue.

“There has been no change in the position of the Jerusalem municipality … construction in Jerusalem is necessary, important, and will continue at full strength,” the Jerusalem municipality said following Friday’s vote.

As the city of Jerusalem prepares to approve new constructions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro on Sunday. Shapiro was contacted after Israel called in 10 representatives of 14 other states that voted for the resolution.

While the US has traditionally been an ally of Israel, vetoing numerous UN resolutions against the state, relations somewhat soured under the Obama administration, which has slammed Tel Aviv’s increasingly aggressive settlement policies.

On Sunday, Netanyahu also used his weekly cabinet meeting to once again criticize Obama administration.

“From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it [resolution], stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed,” Netanyahu told ministers on Sunday.

“As I told John Kerry on Thursday, friends don’t take friends to the Security Council,” Netanyahu said. “Over decades American administrations and Israeli governments have disagreed about settlements, but we agreed the Security Council was not the place to resolve this issue.”

“This is of course in total contradiction to the traditional American policy of not trying to impose conditions of a final resolution … and of course the explicit commitment of President Obama himself in 2011 to avoid such measures,” he added.

Netanyahu has also reportedly instructed his ministers not to travel to the countries who voted in favor of the resolution. Earlier Sunday, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered Israeli security forces to cease all cooperation with the Palestinians on civilian matters, while retaining security coordination, army radio reported.

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