Israel tells US it won’t authorize new settlements in coming months

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Israel will not authorize new settlements in the occupied West Bank in the coming months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Monday, after behind-the-scenes talks to head off a planned UN Security Council vote on the contested issue.

Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist coalition on Feb. 12 granted retroactive authorization to nine settler outposts that had been erected without government approval, angering the Palestinians, who want the West Bank for a future state.

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The move also drew condemnation from Western powers and Israel’s Arab partners, who deem all the settlements illegal.

But the United Arab Emirates told the UN Security Council it would not call a vote on Monday on a draft resolution against the settlements. Citing “positive talks between the partners,” UAE said the council would instead issue a unanimous statement.

A Security Council vote might have tested Washington’s willingness to cast a veto on behalf of Israel after publicly warning its Middle East ally not to authorize new settlements.

Israel has sponsored some 140 settlements in the West Bank, which it sees as a historical birthright and a security bulwark, while dismantling or turning a blind eye to dozens of outposts.

“Israel informed the United States that, in the coming months, it will not authorize new settlements beyond the nine already approved,” said the statement from Netanyahu’s office.

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