Israel approves settler building ahead of Kerry speech

Move follows UN resolution demanding halt to settlement construction

JERUSALEM - An Israeli committee Wednesday approved a four-storey building for settlers in an east Jerusalem Palestinian neighbourhood, an NGO said, ahead of a speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
While a Jerusalem planning committee postponed requests for building permits for nearly 500 homes in east Jerusalem, it did approve the building in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan, according to the Ir Amim NGO which monitors settlement activity.
The moves follow last week's UN Security Council resolution demanding a halt to Israeli settlement building, and with Kerry set to make a major speech on the conflict in Washington at 1600 GMT.
Ir Amim said the request for the building had been put forward by members of Ateret Cohanim, an organisation that pushes for Israeli settlement expansion in east Jerusalem.
Silwan is next to Jerusalem's Old City and is the site of a long campaign by pro-settlement groups to expand the Israeli presence there.
Palestinians have decried the influx of settlers into Silwan, accusing them of seeking to push them out of their own neighbourhood.