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Netanyahu urges ministers to 'act responsibly' amid talk of annexation

Under the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, settlement construction has surged with some 15,000 settlers moving into the West Bank over the past year alone
AMIR COHEN (POOL/AFP/File)
Netanyahu expressed hope that things would change with the new US administration coming in January

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned his cabinet on Sunday not discuss topics such as settlement building or annexing parts of the West Bank amid concerns that US President Barack Obama, or possibly other countries could seek further action against Israel.

Noting that he shares the "ministers' feelings of anger and frustration," Netanyahu urged all to "act prudently, responsibly and calmly, in both actions and words."

The Haaretz daily quoted Netanyahu as telling ministers from his Likud party prior to the cabinet meeting that "the issue is still hot and this is not the end of it."

According to the Ynet news site, the Prime Minister asked his ministers not to make public statements regarding settlement building or annexing parts of the Palestinian territories.

His comments come in the wake of a vote at the United Nations Security Council on Friday in which council states voted 14-0 in favor of a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The resolution demands that "Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem." It states that Israeli settlements have "no legal validity" and are "dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution."

Rightwing Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Saturday night that Israel should "announce a full annexation of settlement blocs" in response to the resolution.

“There is so much darkness and so much hypocrisy in the UN’s vote on Israel. The Middle East is burning and who do they choose to attack? Israel. It’s hypocrisy and shamelessness,” Erdan said.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home told army radio that his party would "soon propose a bill to annex Maale Adumim," a settlement city east of Jerusalem.

At the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu unleashed his displeasure with the Obama administration again, laying the blame for the "unbalance" and "hostile" resolution on the US president.

"From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed," Netanyahu said. "This is, of course, in complete contradiction of the traditional American policy that was committed to not trying to dictate terms for a permanent agreement, like any issue related to them in the Security Council, and, of course, the explicit commitment of President Obama himself, in 2011, to refrain from such steps."

"Over decades, American administrations and Israeli governments had disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the Security Council was not the place to resolve this issue," the Prime Minister continued. "We knew that going there would make negotiations harder and drive peace further away."

"And, as I told John Kerry on Thursday, friends don’t take friends to the Security Council," he added.

Netanyahu went on to express hope that things would change with the new administration coming in January.

"I look forward to working with those friends and with the new administration when it takes office next month," he said.

Trump reacted after the vote by promising change at the UN.

"As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th," he tweeted referring to the date of his inauguration.

Jerusalem set to approve nearly 400 new housing units beyond Green Line: report

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem municipality is preparing to approve on Wednesday nearly 400 housing units beyond the Green Line- 174 in the Ramat Shlomo and 216 in the Ramot neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, Israel's Channel 2 news reports.

According to the report, the units to be approved are brand news one and not units that had previously been frozen. 

In response to a request for comment the city told Channel 2 that "the city operates throughout the city according to the master plan, and according to the planning and building law and promotes construction for both Arabs and Jews."

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