- Title: Israel approves settler building in E.Jerusalem ahead of Kerry speech
- Date: 28th December 2016
- Summary: JERUSALEM (FILE) (REUTERS) EAST JERUSALEM NEIGHBOURHOOD OF SILWAN ISRAELI POLICE VEHICLES IN STREET JEWISH SETTLERS' BUILDING OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM AS SEEN FROM SILWAN
- Embargoed: 12th January 2017 16:56
- Keywords: Israel Palestinians settlements Jerusalem Netanyahu
- Location: JERUSALEM
- City: JERUSALEM
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Diplomacy/Foreign Policy,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0035ESSMDJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Israeli Education Minister and Jewish Home Party head Naftali Bennett sent a message to Secretary of State John Kerry just before the latter's policy speech on the Arab-Israeli conflict on Wednesday (December 28).
"Secretary Kerry, a few days ago the United Nation Security Council voted for a shameful resolution -- a resolution that essentially says that Jerusalem is an occupied territory. Well, Jerusalem was the Jewish capital 3,000 years ago; it is in the Bible, just open it up. No U.N. resolution and no speech can change the fact that Jerusalem has always been and will always be the Jewish eternal capital," minutes before Kerry gave his address.
Israel approved construction of a multi-storey building for settlers in annexed East Jerusalem on Wednesday, an NGO said, after postponing authorisation of hundreds of other homes ahead of a speech on the Middle East by the U.S. secretary of state.
The Obama administration provoked the Israeli government's fury on Friday by failing to block the passage of an anti-settlement resolution in the U.N. Security Council.
Secretary of State John Kerry was to give further voice to international opposition to settlements in an address at 11 a.m. ET (1600 GMT) that a State Department official said would lay out his vision for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Hours before Kerry's speech, a Jerusalem municipal committee pulled back from approving 492 new homes for Israelis in East Jerusalem, an area that Israel captured along with the West Bank in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The chairman of the committee and one of its members said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked for the vote to be delayed, concerned approval for those projects would add ammunition to Kerry's expected anti-settlement arguments.
A spokesman for the Israeli leader declined to make immediate comment. The panel meets regularly and the building projects that were removed from the agenda on Wednesday could come up for a vote in the future.
Ir Amim, a group which opposes Israeli settlement in occupied territory where Palestinians seek to establish a state, said the committee nonetheless permitted construction of a four-storey building for settlers in Silwan, a Palestinian neighbourhood where they have been expanding their enclave.
"The impact is corrosive, both to the Palestinian community, the people living in it, the fabric of the community, all of the Palestinian neighbourhoods around the historic basin and also imperils a two state solution, by consolidating Israeli control of the Old City and historic basin in lieu of and in advanced of any kind of negotiation that might take place in the future," said Ir Amim's director of international relations, Betty Herschmann.
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