[JURIST] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official website] said Sunday he will be lifting restrictions on Israelis building settlements in East Jerusalem. The statement said [Reuters report] “My vision is to enact sovereignty over all the settlements.” Immediately after the announcement, hundreds of building permits were approved by the municipal government. According to Haaretz, Netanyahu delayed [Haaretz report] lifting restrictions for two weeks to wait for then-US president Barack Obama [personal website] to leave office. Netanyahu will be meeting with Obama’s successor Donald Trump [official website] at some point in the near future. In a statement to Reuters, Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said “We strongly condemn the Israeli decision to approve the construction.” Netanyahu and his ministers also decided Sunday to postpone discussion of annexing a West Bank settlement.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been at the forefront of recent international news and reports. A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned remarks [JURIST report] made by US Secretary of State John Kerry on the current Israeli government. In a speech given in December Kerry criticized the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, stating that such actions jeopardize prospects of peace in the Middle East. Netanyahu in December summoned [JURIST report] the ambassadors of the 14 UN Security Council members who supported a resolution condemning Israel’s settlement in Palestine to rebuke them for the vote. Following the passage of this resolution, Netanyahu also ordered the country’s foreign ministers to reevaluate Israel’s ties to the UN within the month. Earlier this month Trump was warned [JURIST report] by Palestinian leaders not to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.