Israel Calls Off Vote On Settler Homes ‘After PM Request’


Jerusalem:  An Israeli committee delayed a vote set for Wednesday on permits for settler homes after a request from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to avoid further conflict with the United States, an official said.

Hanan Rubin, a Jerusalem city councillor and a member of the planning committee that was to discuss the permits, told AFP its members had been informed of the request by the committee chairman.

The discussion was pulled from Wednesday’s agenda in a move following last week’s UN Security Council resolution demanding a halt to Israeli settlement building and with US Secretary of State John Kerry set for a major speech on the conflict later in the day.

“We were told by the chairman… that it was pulled at the request of the prime minister so we can avoid a conflict with the US government just before Kerry’s speech tonight,” Rubin told AFP.

Netanyahu’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rubin said the committee had been planning to vote on permits for 492 units in the Ramat Shlomo and Ramot settlement neighbourhoods of mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem.

He said the plans will be brought forward at a later date, though it was unclear when.

The Ir Amim NGO had earlier said the committee was to discuss permits for 618 housing units in east Jerusalem.

Friday’s UN Security Council resolution demanded a halt to Israeli settlement building in Palestinian territory. It passed 14-0, with the United States abstaining.

By declining to use its veto, the United States enabled the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy.

US President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on January 20, has signalled far more favourable policy toward Israel and called for the United States to veto the resolution.