A report on Army Radio Wednesday said that a planned meeting of the Yerushalayim Planning and Building Council that had been set for later in the day has been postponed. The announcement of the postponement comes hours before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was set to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama.
The council meeting was set to discuss providing building permits to a number of neighborhoods in the city – not necessarily over the 1948 armistice lines in areas of Yerushalayim that were liberated in the Six-Day War. However, the Army Radio report said, the council did not wish to limit itself to discussing only permits in the area of the city regarded as “Israel proper,” and decided to shelve the whole meeting.
In the past, such meetings have provided the media – and the White House – with ample opportunity to condemn Israeli “settlement practices.” Among the most famous example was a meeting of the council in 2010, which coincided with a visit to Israel by Vice-President Joe Biden, leading to sharp condemnation of Israel’s building policies by the U.S., the EU and the PA.
Netanyahu and Obama will meet Wednesday afternoon in advance of the Israeli leader’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly Thursday, and after the American president’s speech Tuesday. In that speech, Obama said that “Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.”
In response to the report, the Yerushalayim Municipality said that “the postponement of the council’s meeting does not mean that there is a building freeze in the city. At times there are unavoidable delays that are not related to major issues, but instead are related to technical matters.”