The United States' UN Ambassador, Samantha Power, said Wednesday that Washington is “deeply concerned” by Israel's decision to turn 4,000 dunams of land in the Etzion Bloc region into state land.
The US “position on settlement activity is very well known,” she told reporters. “We have long made clear our opposition to settlement activity. We’re deeply concerned by the reports of expanded settlement activity over the last few days, and we call on the Government of Israel to reverse its decision. I think that these actions are contrary to Israel’s stated goal of achieving permanent status agreement with the Palestinians.”
Asked by Al Jazeera if the US could support the Palestinian Authority's initiative to set a timetable for “an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories,” Power said: “We believe that negotiations are the way in which a two-state solution can be achieved, must be achieved. We don’t think there are shortcuts or unilateral measures that can be taken at the United Nations or anyplace else that will bring about the outcome that the Palestinian people most seek.”
She was also asked what steps the US intends to take to push forward a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas, and whether the US wants a UN Security Council resolution on the matter. Power stated: “First, there is now a ceasefire in place that has held in recent days, and our first point of reference here would be to make sure that nothing we do be unhelpful as it relates to current talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which are meant to resume, as you know, in Cairo. So that’s a do-no-harm proposition that I think we should always keep in mind here in New York.
“The second point I’d make though is that, yes, we have been engaging – we, the United States; I’m speaking in my national capacity – we’ve been engaged for some time within the Council on a number of ideas about how the Council might potentially contribute to the effort to secure a sustainable ceasefire. Those discussions are continuing, and the United States is of the view that a Council product could conceivably play a positive role in supporting a durable solution. And as you indicated, those discussions are underway. But again, our emphasis is going to be on what the Council can do that will be additive and seen as additive by the parties on the ground, given that there is a calm of sorts that we very much seek to preserve.”
To secure a permanent peace, she reminded reporters, “Israel has to be a part of that negotiation, just as a practical matter. So to think that you can come to New York and secure what needs to be worked out on the ground is not realistic, and in fact, is likely to have very counterproductive effects on whether on the sustainable ceasefire that we seek for what has just – the crisis that has just been – whereby a ceasefire has just been negotiated, you don’t want to do anything that interferes with that or risks that. And ultimately, in order, again, to secure the desired outcome, the parties are going to have to come together and it is going to have to be negotiated with the Government of Israel.”