Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Israel approves 69 settler homes on eve of Kerry visit

An Israeli planning committee has granted final approval for the construction of 69 settler homes in East Jerusalem on the eve of a visit by the US secretary of state.

JERUSALEM // An Israeli planning committee yesterday granted final approval for the construction of 69 settler homes in East Jerusalem on the eve of a visit by the US secretary of state.

The approval was given by the municipal planning committee just hours before John Kerry touched down in Amman to start his fifth visit to the region since February, as he steps up efforts to draw Israel and the Palestinians back into direct negotiations.

"This is blind provocation against Kerry," said Meir Margalit, a city councillor who is a member of the left-wing Meretz party. "It proves just how much the government of Bibi [Benjamin] Netanyahu wants peace," he said, using the nickname of the Israeli prime minister.

The homes will be built in Har Homa, a settlement neighbourhood in the southern sector of Arab East Jerusalem that was occupied by Israel during the 1967 war and then annexed, a move that was not recognised by the international community.

The contentious decision was likely to set tempers flaring a day before Mr Kerry travels to Jerusalem for talks with Mr Netanyahu.

Before the approval was announced, Mr Kerry yesterday said he was optimistic that the Israelis and Palestinians were committed to reviving peace talks.

"I believe they believe the peace process is bigger than any one day or one moment, or certainly more important to their countries than some of their current political challenges," he said in Kuwait with Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Sabah, the foreign minister.

In what appeared to be a sign that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, wanted the peace process to move forward, Palestinians shelved an application to the UN's cultural agency to have a West Bank village named as a world heritage site.

A Palestinian official said the request to have Unesco recognise Battir was postponed indefinitely as a gesture to Mr Kerry.

 

* With additional reporting by Reuters and Associated Press

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National