Israel has postponed a vote to authorize construction of almost 500 new homes in Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.
The Israeli committee’s decision apparently follows a request from PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.
The move also comes ahead of a speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by Secretary of State John Kerry.
On December 23, the US chose not to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to settlement construction.
The decision to abstain infuriated Benjamin Netanyahu, whose spokesman said on December 27 he had “ironclad information” from Arab sources that the White House had helped draft the language of the resolution and “pushed hard” for its passage.
However, a US state department spokesman said the accusation was “just not true”, but he hoped the resolution would “serve as a wake-up call” for Israel.
More than 500,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
The UN resolution passed on December 23 stated that the establishment of settlements “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”.
Benjamin Netanyahu responded over the weekend by summoning the ambassadors of the US and the 14 countries on the Security Council who voted in favor of the resolution, recalling Israel’s ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal, cutting aid to Senegal, and canceling a visit by Ukraine’s prime minister.
The Jerusalem Planning and Housing Committee had indicated it would press ahead with a planned vote on authorizing 492 new homes in the settlements of Ramat Shlomo and Ramot.
However, on December 28, planning committee member Hanan Rubin said the vote had been postponed.
Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to lay out his vision for ending the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and address what a senior state department official described as “misleading critiques” of the Obama administration by the Israeli government.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said the resolution “paves the way” for the upcoming conference on Middle East peace in France on January 15.