Israel could push for more settlements after UN resolution
TEL AVIV - Israel could advance plans this week for thousands more settlement homes in annexed east Jerusalem despite a landmark UN resolution demanding an end to such activity, an official said Tuesday.
On Wednesday, a Jerusalem planning committee is to discuss issuing building permits for 618 housing units in the mainly Palestinian eastern sector of the city, according to the Ir Amim NGO, which monitors settlement building.
Meir Turjeman, the deputy mayor of Jerusalem who also heads the committee, has reportedly also spoken of seeking to advance plans for some 5,600 other units at earlier stages in the process.
In brief comments to AFP correspondents on Tuesday, Turjeman said there were no plans to call off discussions in response to Friday's Security Council resolution. The hundreds of building permits were on the agenda before the UN vote.
"We'll discuss everything that's on the table in a serious manner," he said.
According to Ir Amim, the 618 units include 140 in the Pisgat Zeev neighbourhood, 262 in Ramat Shlomo and 216 in Ramot.
The United States abstained from Friday's vote, enabling the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy.
US President Barack Obama's administration has grown increasingly frustrated with settlement building in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, which Israel occupied in 1967.
It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.
There have been growing warnings that settlement expansion is fast eroding the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the basis of years of negotiations.
Settlements are built on land the Palestinians view as part of their future state and seen as illegal under international law.
Some 430,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the West Bank and a further 200,000 Israelis live in annexed east Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as the capital of their future state.