Israel pulled back from approving new settlements for Israelis in occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday. The decision came before a speech in which the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was to give further voice to international opposition to settlement building.
The projects, in areas Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war are part of building activity the U.N. Security Council asked for an end to on Friday in a resolution made possible by a U.S. abstention.
John Kerry will discuss Washington’s withholding of its veto when he delivers a speech at the State Department at 11 a.m. ET (1600 GMT) to express his view for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, aaccording to a senior State Department official.
Members of Jerusalem city hall’s Planning and Building committee said a planned vote was cancelled upon the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The panel’s chairman, Meir Turgeman, said at the session that Netanyahu was concerned approval would have given Kerry “ammunition before the speech”.
Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, called on Israel “to take the high ground and declare a cessation of settlement activities, including East Jerusalem, so we can give the peace process the chance it deserves by the resumption of meaningful negotiations”.