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      UN Chief Warns Israel: Housing Plans 'Dangerous Path'

      UN calls on Israel to cancel Jewish housing plans; warns the move could be "an almost fatal blow" to peace hopes.
      By Rachel Hirshfeld
      First Publish: 12/19/2012, 7:35 PM

      Maaleh Adumim, with E1, background, near Jerusalem
      Maaleh Adumim, with E1, background, near Jerusalem
      Flash 90

      The United Nations on Wednesday called on Israel to cancel plans to build thousands of new Jewish homes in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, warning the move could be "an almost fatal blow" to peace hopes.

      "The Middle East peace process is in a deep freeze. The two sides seem more polarized than ever, and a two-state solution is farther away than at any time since the Oslo process began," warned UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

      "I am deeply concerned by heightened settlement activity in the West Bank, in particular around Jerusalem. This gravely threatens efforts to establish a viable Palestinian state," Ban complained.

      "I call on Israel to refrain from continuing on this dangerous path, which will undermine the prospects for a resumption of dialogue and a peaceful future for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

      "Let us get the peace process back on track before it is too late," he said. He did not mention the refusal of the PA to come to the negotiation table without preconditions and PA head Mahmoud Abbas' flagrant abrogation of the Oslo Accords in unilaterally obtaining non-member state status at the UN under Ban Ki-moon's leadership.

      Earlier, UN assistant secretary general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman joined in the international condemnations of Israel saying the construction violates international law.

      "If implemented, these plans would represent an almost fatal blow to remaining chances of securing a two-state solution," he told the U.N. Security Council.

      "We strongly urge the Israeli government to heed the international calls to rescind these plans," Feltman said.

      The Jerusalem Local Planning Committee on Wednesday afternoon gave final approval for plans to construct 2,610 new housing units in Givat Hamatos, a new neighborhood in southeast Jerusalem located across the “Green Line”.

      On Tuesday, the United States and the United Kingdom both denounced Israel's plans to construct 6,500 new Jewish apartments in east Jerusalem, calling the move a "provocation" that endangers the fragile peace process.

      "We are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action. These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

      "Israel's leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution yet these actions only put that goal further at risk.

      "So we again call on Israel, and the Palestinians, to cease any kinds of counterproductive, unilateral actions and take concrete steps to return to direct negotiations," Nuland said.

      Feltman also told the UN Security Council that Israel must resume the transfer of frozen tax and customs money to the struggling Palestinian Authority "without delay."

      The action "undermines the integrity of the Palestinian Authority" and "casts doubt on Israeli compliance" with an international protocol on the money transfers, he said, calling on Israel to "to reconsider its decision and resume the transfer of funds without delay."

      Last week, Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly criticized world bodies for ignoring Khaled Mashaal's threats to destroy Israel while the Hamas leader was visiting Gaza, and reiterated Israel's right to build in its capital, as any other country does.