More settler homes approved in Jerusalem, Palestine fumes

Jerusalem, Jan 22 (IANS) The Israeli authorities on Sunday approved the construction of 560 new housing units in settlement neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem, drawing condemnation from Pelestinian presidency.

The approval comes two days after coming into office as 45th President of the US of Donald Trump, who has promised to shift the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognising the ancient city as Israel’s capital.

The permits by the Jerusalem Local Planning and Building Committee were given to residential projects in Ramot and Ramat Shlomo, Xinhua news agency reported.

Chairman of the Committee, Meir Turgeman, said the approval was “out on hold” until the end of former President Barack Obama administration, which disapproved Israel’s expansion of the settlements.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the move, calling for the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution on settlements.

President Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rideinha said Israel’s decision comes in defiance of the UNSC, especially after resolution 2334 that has affirmed the illegality of settlements.

The spokesperson called on the Security Council to “to put an end to the extremist Israeli government policy that is seeking to destroy the two state solution”.

He said the leadership was going to start communication with Arab and friendly countries to move in the Security Council to stop Israel from acting as a country above the law.

According to Israeli authorities, about 11,000 new units pending approval in different areas in the city.

Member of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Ahmad Majdalani said “the decision comes to test the seriousness of the new US administration with regards to settlements and the extent to which it would pull a diplomatic and political cover for the Israeli government’s settlement construction policy”.

The UNSC on December 23 voted in favour of a resolution that condemns Israeli settlements and calls on the country to halts its settlement activity in the Palestinian territories.

The issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank was deemed illegal by many world powers, including the US, China and the European Union and has contributed to the stalling of the peace process.

Israel seized East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast War, along with the rest of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

It later annexed East Jerusalem and declared it as part of its “eternal” capital, in a move that has never been recognised by the international community.

–IANS

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