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UN Official: 'Settlements' Are Holding Back Peace

UN's Jeffrey Feltman warns that chances of peace may be damaged because of Israel's plan to build beyond the 'Green Line'.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 11/20/2013, 4:13 AM

Jews of Judea and Samaria
Jews of Judea and Samaria
Flash 90

A United Nations official on Tuesday blamed Israeli “settlements” in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem as being an obstacle to peace.

The UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman warned that chances of peacefully ending the Israeli-Arab conflict may be "irreparably damaged" unless steps are taken to prevent “new Israeli settlement building” and other "negative developments."

Speaking to the Security Council, Feltman said that four months since their resumption, the peace talks between the sides have reached a delicate moment.

“On the positive side, it appears that the negotiators have been engaging on substance and have gone some way towards narrowing their differences, notwithstanding the great difficulties that peace will entail. But strains have been growing dangerously between the parties, and these can and must be overcome,” he said, according to a UN statement.

He then continued by saying that the process suffered “a significant setback” with a series of recent announcements by Israel of plans to build new Jewish homes in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.

Feltman said that senior UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have reiterated the UN’s unequivocal position that “settlements” are contrary to international law and an obstacle to peace. The Secretary-General expects Israel to put “a full stop” to these plans, Feltman declared.

“In protest over these developments, Palestinian negotiators submitted their resignations, now under consideration by [PA Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas, who has nevertheless made it clear that this does not constitute a Palestinian departure from talks,” he added.

“Parties should now intensify efforts and refrain from actions that undermine trust and the spirit of talks.”

Feltman stated that the so-called “two-state solution” remains the only way to fully realize the legitimate aspirations of both peoples for self-determination, peace and security.

“The consequences of failure would be dire for Israelis and Palestinians alike. We thus continue to urge the parties to remain steadfast in their commitment to see this process through,” he warned.

“But we fear that unless steps are taken to prevent the reoccurrence of negative developments such as those of recent weeks, the remaining chances to achieve a negotiated two-state solution may be irreparably damaged.”

The UN, the U.S. and other countries have repeatedly condemned Israel for building new homes on lands it liberated during the 1967 Six Day War. In fact, Ban recently declared that “settlement building” is bad, but praised Israel for releasing terrorist murderers as a “gesture” to the PA.

The PA has also continuously expressed anger about recent Israeli announcements of new construction in areas it claims for itself, despite the fact that it was informed in advance that Israel will continue to build as talks continue. The areas in which Israel plans to build are areas that even the PA has previously accepted will be part of Israel in a future deal.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett pointed out in a CNN interview on Monday that “one cannot occupy his own home.”

When asked about Israeli construction in the “occupied West Bank”, Bennett held up a coin which, he pointed out, was “used by Jews 2,000 years ago in the state of Israel.”

The UN has not condemned the PA’s incitement against Israel which has continued even as peace talks resumed.

In one such incident, PA TV broadcast a crudely anti-Semitic program legitimizing violence against Jews in Judea and Samaria - who were stereotyped as violent thieves. The end of the program glorified the humiliation of a religious Jew by cutting off his peyote side-curls, in a scene chillingly reminiscent of Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda.

Other broadcasts included a re-run of a music video encouraging violence against Israelis, and the glorification of the murderer of 61 Israeli civilians on the official Facebook page of Abbas' Fatah party.