12/28/2016, 10.16
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Israel "reduces" ties with nations that voted for UN resolution on settlements

Visits postponed and work with the embassies called off. Measure "temporary". Ambassadors recalled from New Zealand and Senegal. Summit with British Prime Minister in Davos questioned. Israel ignores vote and pushes ahead with the construction of 618 new settlements in East Jerusalem.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Israel has "reduced" diplomatic ties with nations which, last week, voted in favor of the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon, clarified that relations were not suspended, but "reduced" with the postponement of visits and collaboration with the embassies. Moreover, the measure is reportedly "temporary" in nature.

"Until further notice, we’ll limit our contacts with the embassies here in Israel and refrain from visits of Israeli officials to those states, and of visits of officials from those states here", he said.  Meanwhile, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already recalled ambassadors from New Zealand and Senegal for consultations and canceled the program of aid for African nations who voted in favor (Angola).

There is also talk of a possible cancellation of a face-to-face meeting between Netanyahu and British Prime Minister Theresa May, that was to take place next month in Davos, at the World Economic Forum. However, at present there  has been no official communication on the matter.

The wrath of Netanyahu and his government was provoked by the resolution passed on December 23 last at the UN Security Council, endorsed by 14 countries, with the US abstaining. For the first time since 1979 Washington did not block an unfavorable motion toward the Jewish country. The prime minister accused the incumbent president Barack Obama of "collusion" with this "shameful" resolution in the final stages of his mandate.

Meanwhile, Israel is preparing to build new settlements in the occupied territories. Defying the UN resolution, the authorities are ready to give the green light to the construction of 618 new housing units in East Jerusalem. Jerusalem Mayor Meir Turjeman said the UN vote requiring the termination "of all settlement activities of the territories" does not change the policy regarding settlements.

Under the Netanyahu government there has been a considerable increase in Israeli settlements. In 2015 at least 15 thousand new settlers have moved into the West Bank.

According to Peace Now, in 2016 the Israeli administration - in the hands of the military - which controls the territories of the West Bank has given the green light for 2,623 new settlements. These include 756 illegal houses and those "legalized" afterwards. To date at least 570 thousand Israelis live in over 130 settlements built by Israel since 1967, the starting date of the occupation. 

International law considers these settlements illegal; a position disputed by the Israeli government, which in recent years has increasingly strengthened its expansionist policy. Added to the settlements are also at least 97 outposts, considered illegal not only by international rights but by the Israeli government.

The peace talks broke down in 2014, triggering an escalation of violence.

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