Israel (GPA) – Following the vote on Friday by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) calling for a halt to further Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the Jerusalem Planning Committee has approved hundreds of new settlement homes in East Jerusalem.
The Israeli government began approving new settlements over the weekend that were previously deemed ‘diplomatically sensitive’ by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office prior to the election of Donald Trump. Despite a noticeable slowdown in the construction of settlements over the last few years of the Obama presidency, Israel seems to be banking on further support for their settlement projects from incoming President Donald Trump.
Trump called on the US delegation to the UNSC to veto Friday’s resolution against Israel, which the US allowed to pass by abstaining from the vote. After backlashes by conservative Israeli and US lawmakers it seems Israel sees this as a green light to continue their settlements in this time of transition.
The 618 new settlements a were approved for construction past the so called “green line” which marks the limits of Israeli territory agreed upon by Israel and their neighbors in 1949 following the Arab-Israeli war. The Planning Committee is also expected to meet on Wednesday to discuss further construction of an additional 5,600 new settler homes beyond the line.
The head of the planning committee, Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Meir Turgeman issued a statement over the weekend that Israelis”remain unfazed by the UN vote, or by any other entity that tries to dictate what we do in Jerusalem,” despite the fact that the settlements clearly violate international law and encroach on land that rightfully belongs to the Palestinians.
The settlements are just a part of the concessions that right wing Israelis wish for. Several of the more conservative members of Israel’s parliament have called for an end to any talk of a two state solution and are discussing proposing a bill to completely annex the West Bank.
Following the UNSC vote, Israeli PM Netanyahu called all the ambassadors from the countries who proposed the resolution for private meetings at his office. He also addressed the issue in his weekly cabinet meeting saying “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,” and that he had “told John Kerry on Thursday, friends don’t take friends to the Security Council.”
With the clear violation of international law, the displacement of Palestinians (that many argue borders on ethnic cleansing), and the stated intent to further violate the law and past treaties; Israel is acting in a way that – if they were anyone else – would expose them to diplomatic and economic punishment from multiple bodies. The US and European Union (EU) both currently have economic sanctions against Russia for the annexation of Crimea by way of a democratic popular referendum. Israel is blatantly violating international law, the right to self determination of Palestine and past treaty agreements in a much more hostile way and must be held accountable if they’re to remain a major geopolitical player.