NEW YORK/JERUSALEM -  The Israeli government says it plans to build thousands of settlements in occupied Palestinian territory despite a United Nations Security Council vote last week to condemn such settlements.

Jerusalem will approve 600 housing units Wednesday as part of a planned 5,600 homes to be built in East Jerusalem, according to an official cited by The New York Times.

The announcement comes after the Security Council formally voted to condemn Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a resounding defeat for the Tel Aviv regime at the UN. The United States abstained from the vote, infuriating the Israeli government, which had called for a veto.

Israel's foreign ministry said Tuesday the country was "reducing" ties with nations that voted for last week's UN Security Council resolution demanding a halt to settlement building in Palestinian territory. Refuting reports that ties had been suspended, foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that Israel was "temporarily reducing" visits and work with embassies.

"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 told AFP.

US President-elect Donald Trump pushed for the resolution to be vetoed, arguing such a move “puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.”

The Israeli government claims it has evidence that Obama’s White House was behind the UN resolution and has reduced diplomatic relations with 12 countries on the Security Council as a result of the resolution. The units to be announced Wednesday were planned before the resolution passed, the report said.

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman, the committee chairman for the settlement planning, told Israel Hayom that he would not let the resolution deter plans, according to the Times.

“I won’t get worked up over the UN or any other organization that might try to dictate to us what to do in Jerusalem,” Turgeman said. “I hope that the government and the new administration in the United States will give us momentum to continue.” The defiant posture reflected a bristling anger among Israel’s pro-settlement political leaders, who not only blamed the United States for failing to block the Council resolution, but also claimed to have secret intelligence showing that President Obama’s team had orchestrated it. American officials strongly denied the claim, but the sides seem poised for more weeks of conflict until Obama hands over the presidency to Trump. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at Security Council countries by curbing diplomatic contacts, recalling envoys, cutting off aid and summoning the American ambassador for a scolding.

 

 

He canceled a planned visit this week by Ukraine’s prime minister even as he expressed concern on Monday that Obama was planning more action at the United Nations before his term ends next month.

The prime minister defended his retaliation. “Israel is a country with national pride, and we do not turn the other cheek,” he said. “This is a responsible, measured and vigorous response, the natural response of a healthy people that is making it clear to the nations of the world that what was done at the UN is unacceptable to us.”