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UN powers ‘dismayed’ by Israeli settlements
Russia’s UN envoy questions Israel’s commitment to two-state solution
AFP | Dec 21,2011 | 00:07
People walk past a truck crane completing a section of Israel’s controversial separation barrier near East Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp on Tuesday. On the edge of the camp, the final touches are being put to a barrier and a crossing point that Palesti
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — UN Security Council powers on Tuesday launched a strong condemnation of Israel’s increased settlements in the occupied territories and growing attacks by settlers on Palestinians.
European Union members of the 15-nation body demanded strong action by the Israeli government to halt the attacks and said the settlements “send a devastating message” about Israel’s intentions.
India, Brazil and South Africa launched their own condemnation after a Security Council meeting on Israeli-Palestinian developments. Russia’s UN envoy questioned Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict.
Britain, France, Germany and Portugal — EU representatives on the council — said in a statement that they were “dismayed by these wholly negative developments”.
They said Israel’s move to accelerate the construction of settlements in the occupied territories “send a devastating message. We call on the Israeli government to reverse these steps”.
“The viability of the Palestinian state that we want to see and the two-state solution that is essential for Israel’s long-term security are threatened by the systematic and deliberate expansion of settlements,” added the statement, read after the meeting by Britain’s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant.
“We condemn the disturbing escalation of violence by settlers including the burning of the Nebi Akasha Mosque in West Jerusalem and the Burqa Mosque in the West Bank. It is clear that these deliberately provocative attacks on places of worship were designed to aggravate tensions.”
The Europeans welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to clamp down on extremists and called “on the Israeli government to fulfil its commitment to bring the perpetrators to justice and to put an end to impunity”.
The UN ambassadors appeared before reporters after a UN briefing on efforts to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to direct talks, deadlocked since September 2010.
Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said his government was gravely concerned by the new settlements, which the UN has reaffirmed breach international law. The ambassador said the construction was “clearly putting in question the possibility of the two-state solution”.
Arab nations were “profoundly disappointed and frustrated by the inaction of the Security Council” on the settlements and moves to rebuild the peace process, Lebanon’s UN Ambassador Nawaf Salam said.
In its latest move on settlement building, Israel’s housing and construction ministry said on Sunday it was to publish tenders for the construction of more than 1,000 housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The tenders were part of a package of nearly 6,000 housing units which are to be built across Israel and the West Bank, the Israeli ministry said. The decision was denounced by the Palestinians as a move that undermines efforts to establish peace in the region.
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