Israel announces a temporary halt to new West Bank settlement construction

In the background of the file photo, a boy is holding an Israeli flag

According to Israel, construction on new settlements in the occupied West Bank will stop for "the coming months.". .

The action appears to be the result of negotiations between the US and Israeli and Palestinian officials that took place in secret.

It happens at a time when Palestinian authorities are facing harsh criticism for consenting to the retraction of a UN Security Council resolution on settlements. .

Instead, the council made a symbolic declaration expressing "deep concern and dismay" over recent events.

Israel announced last week that nine illegal outposts had been given legal status and that planning and construction of close to 10,000 new homes in existing settlements had been given the green light.

No expected reversal of these actions is anticipated.

Israel, the United States' closest Middle Eastern ally, had previously received public warnings from Washington not to approve new settlements.

International law deems the settlements illegal, though Israel disputes this.

The US joined other European governments in expressing "deeply troubled" following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's earlier announcement regarding settlements, including France, Germany, Italy, and the UK.

But it also claimed that it was "unhelpful" when the Palestinians later drafted a Security Council resolution that the United Arab Emirates would then propose.

It would have been reiterated in the resolution that "the establishment of settlements by Israel in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law.".

If the US had been compelled to use its veto power at the Security Council to defend Israel, as it frequently has in the past, it would have been embarrassing.   .

The UAE explained to the council why it would not call a vote, citing "positive talks between the partners," and stated that its president would instead issue a statement. .

Although they reflect consensus, these statements are not binding in court.

The official UN representative for the Palestinian people, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), has not made any statements. Officials from the Palestinian Authority (PA), which oversees some of the West Bank and, like the PLO, is led by President Mahmoud Abbas, have also not been present.

However, there are rumors that Israel agreed to scale back its evictions of Palestinians and home demolitions in exchange for dropping the draft resolution.

Palestinians frequently construct without permits in territories governed by Israel, claiming that obtaining them is nearly impossible. Israel views these buildings as illegal and has recently stepped up its efforts to demolish them, adding to the already high tensions.

Many people in the international community have expressed concern about the likelihood of violence in the upcoming months. .

In April, the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Muslim holiday of Ramadan will both fall on the same day. This will increase the likelihood of clashes at sensitive religious sites, especially in East Jerusalem.

Political adversaries of the Fatah party, which controls the PLO and PA, have criticized its choice to abstain from the UN vote. .

Hamas, an Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, claimed that its actions were contrary to popular opinion.

According to a spokesman for the PA, Hazem Qassem, "it appears that the PA is insisting on buying illusion from the US administrations and occupation [Israeli] governments, and this does not reflect the spirit of the Palestinian people.".

Mustafa Barghouti, the leader of the Palestinian National Initiative party, told the BBC that Washington's interests were served by the course of events.

"The US can now maintain its hypocrisy by claiming to be against settlement construction while still promoting a two-state solution. They watch as Israel continues to build settlements, destroying the area, he said.

Some Palestinians have accused Palestinian leaders of working with the Israeli occupation on social media, including doctor-identified Twitter user Yessar.

East Jerusalem would serve as the capital of the independent Palestinian state that the Palestinians want to establish in the West Bank, Gaza, and other areas that Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East War. .

The two-state solution, a long-standing peace formula backed by the international community, is based on this.

Israel has established about 140 Jewish settlements in the West Bank since 1967, citing the need for security and the area's biblical ties. It has also destroyed or ignored dozens of outposts over the years.

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