Israel tells U.S. it won't okay new settlements in coming months

Netanyahu informs U.S. that 'will not authorize new settlements beyond the nine already approved' after UAE told the UN Security Council it would not call a vote on Monday on a draft resolution against Israeli settlements

Retuers, Associated Press|
Israel will not authorize new settlements in the West Bank in the coming months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said on Monday, after behind-the-scenes talks to head off a planned UN Security Council vote on the contested issue.
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  • "Israel informed the United States that, in the coming months, it will not authorize new settlements beyond the nine already approved," said the statement from Netanyahu's office.
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    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: AP)
    Netanyahu's office also said it would continue to demolish illegally built Palestinian homes in the 60% of the West Bank that is under full Israeli control. Palestinian residents in these areas say it is almost impossible to receive a building permit from Israeli authorities.
    Israel's religious-nationalist coalition on Feb. 12 granted retroactive authorization to nine settler outposts that had been erected without government approval, angering the Palestinians.
    The move also drew condemnation from Western powers and Israel's Arab partners, who deem all the settlements illegal.
    But the United Arab Emirates told the UN Security Council it would not call a vote on Monday on a draft resolution against the settlements. Citing "positive talks between the partners", UAE said the council would instead issue a unanimous statement.
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    גבעת ארנון
    גבעת ארנון
    West Bank settlement
    (Photo: AFP)
    A Security Council vote might have tested Washington's willingness to cast a veto on behalf of Israel after publicly warning its Middle East ally not to authorize new settlements.
    Israel has sponsored some 140 settlements in the West Bank, which it sees as a historical birthright and a security bulwark, while dismantling or turning a blind eye to dozens of outposts.
    The pledge to hold off on approving outposts contradicts the government's guiding principles and Netanyahu could face a backlash from his far-right, pro-settler coalition partners. Construction in established settlements is expected to continue, as it has under successive Israeli governments.
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