Jerusalem's city hall cancells a vote on applications to build nearly 500 new homes for Israelis in annexed East Jerusalem, plans that had drawn U.S. criticism in a raging dispute over settlements. Ashraf Fahim reports.
Israel has canceled a vote approving new settlements in East Jerusalem amidst an intense diplomatic dispute with the United States. The cancellation came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was set to lay out the U.S. vision for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The head of Jerusalem's housing committee says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted the vote canceled so Kerry would not have - quote -- "ammunition" for his speech. The roughly 500 new homes were to be built on land Israel seized from the Palestinians in 1967. Israel has for decades pursued a policy of building exclusively Jewish settlements on occupied territory that Palestinians want for their own state. The settlements are considered illegal under international law. On Friday, the U.S. abstained from a U.N. Security Council demanded an end to settlement building, enraging the right-wing Netanyahu government. But incoming President Donald Trump has promised to defer to Israel on issues such as settlements.