Hours before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech purportedly to lay out his vision for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict though observers and even state department officials had strongly hinted will be a pointed rebuke of the Israeli government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested that the decision to approve applications for new settlements be put off.
The vote scheduled Wednesday December 28th at the Jerusalem’s city hall on applications to build nearly 500 new homes for Israelis in East Jerusalem was cancelled. This plan is part of the building activity that the U.N. Security Council demanded an end to on Friday in a resolution that passed due to the U.S. refusing to exercise its veto powers.
That decision by the U.S., to remove the shield it has placed over Israel in the security council, on this particular vote, has come under withering criticism from the Israeli government who has gone as far as accusing the only friend they have in the international community at all times, of actually writing the resolution themselves. A charge the U.S. has fiercely denied and to which demands of proof from the press has largely elicited the response of “we will deliver it to Trump” at the appropriate time from the Israelis.
It is believed that Kerry’s speech is in part due to what one official calls, “lies and unhinged criticism” that has been coming out of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and senior government officials in Israel.
14 countries voted for the resolution in the Security Council, none voted against with only the United States abstaining, but the United States is the country coming under the harshest criticism from the Israelis.
So while discussing his vision, Kerry will also address what the official called “misleading” the Obama administration drafted and forced the resolution to a vote. On the heels of the speech, the decision to suspend the application approval of new settlements seem to be a belated attempt to not further inflame the tension that is now palpable between the two friends.
While many countries consider settlements to be a major obstacle to any peace between Israel and Palestine, the Israelis disagree, often citing not just biblical, but historical and well as their political connection to the land. It has been a longstanding U.S. policy that settlement activity is illegitimate. Today, about 570,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem containing more than 2.6 million Palestinians.