Ahead of Kerry speech: Israel approves settlement units in East Jerusalem

PNN/ Jerusalem/

The Israeli Jerusalem municipality on Thursday had approved a plan to build a three-story building for Israeli settlers in the center of Silwan town, East Jerusalem.

According to Haaretz Israeli daily, the Silwan settlement project was introduced by the Israeli pro-settlement nonprofit organization Ateret Cohanim, and its approval was postponed many times in the past due to political pressure.

The plan will permit Ateret Cohanim to construct a new building located near the site of controversial Beit Yonathan, which was sold to Ateret Cohanim by the custodian of absentee properties, without a tender, according to the paper.

Earlier Wednesday, the municipality cancelled a vote to approve settler units to avoid further strain on diplomatic relations with the US, as US Secretary of State John Kerry was set to give a speech addressing his vision for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a new United Nations Security Council resolution that reaffirmed that Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law.

However, just ahead of Kerry’s speech, a vote on the Silwan project took place, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

The report also said that the Jerusalem municipality denied that Netanyahu had called for the earlier vote on the units in Ramon and Ramat Shlomo to be put off.