The govornment of Israel has announced that it plans to build 5,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, according to The New York Times.
The statement came shortly after the Security Council denounced Israeli settlements in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Barack Obama had the U.S. abstain from the vote, which could potentially damage U.S. relations with the Israeli government, who had called for a veto along.
Secretary of State John Kerry defended the decision stating, “Some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles — even after urging again and again that the policy must change,” he continued to say, “Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect.”
He then went on to criticize Netanyahu saying, “The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution, but his current coalition is the most right wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by its most extreme elements,” he said. “The result is that policies of this government — which the prime minister himself just described as ‘more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history’ — are leading in the opposite direction, towards one state.” He then went on to say that this was a measure to “save the two-state solution while there was still time.”
Many Israeli officials disagreed and even went as far as saying that the resolution actually made the chance for a two state solution less likely. They said that the Palestinian people now have less incentive to come to an agreement because by declaring Israeli settlements illegal, the United Nations took away all the land Israel had to trade.
“The Palestinians are waging a diplomatic and legal war against Israel. That’s the strategy,” Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer said, “Their strategy is not to negotiate an agreement with Israel because a deal is give and take. They want take and take.”
The Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Meir Turgeman, who is also the committee chairman for the settlement planning, has also said that he would not let the decision slow their plans.
“I won’t get worked up over the U.N. or any other organization that might try to dictate to us what to do in Jerusalem,” Turgeman continued to say. “I hope that the government and the new administration in the United States will give us momentum to continue.”
President-elect Donald Trump agreed with Israel and argued that such a move “puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.”