Israel's building in its own capital is not an obstable to peace, but rather the Arabs' demands and incitement, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations said on Wednesday.
Ambassador Ron Prosor was responding to the condemnation by four European members of the Security Council of Israel's plans to build thousands of new housing units in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
"The planned construction is in neighborhoods that will be part of Jerusalem and Israeli sovereignty under any future agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority," he said. "It is hypocrisy to call for Palestinian territorial contiguity between Judea and Samaria and Gaza and in the same breath also oppose Jewish territorial contiguity between Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem."
Prosor added, "Settlements are not and never have been the main obstacle to peace. The real obstacle to peace is the Palestinians' demand of return, their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the continued terrorism and incitement against Israel. If the Security Council really wants to contribute to the peace process, it must address these issues."
A statement released by the UK, France, Germany and Portugal earlier on Wednesday said the four are “extremely concerned by and strongly oppose" Israel's construction plans.
"Israel's announcements to accelerate the construction of settlements send a negative message and are undermining faith in its willingness to negotiate," the statement read.
"The viability of the two-state solution, that is key for Israel's long-term security is threatened by the systematic expansion of settlements. Settlements are illegal under international law and detrimental to any international efforts to restart peace negotiations and secure a two-state solution…. We call on the Israeli government to rescind these plans and recall that we will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties," it continued.
Earlier on Wednesday, UN Chief Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to cancel plans to build thousands of new Jewish homes, 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," he said.
"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.
on Tuesday, U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland used strong language when condemning Israel's decision to build.
“We are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action,” Nuland told reporters. “These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace.
"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,” she added.