UN envoy blasts 'Israeli settlement expansion'

UN’s Middle East envoy claims Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria is an obstacle to peace. Netanyahu: The envoy is distorting history.

Elad Benari,

Nickolay Mladenov
Nickolay Mladenov
Reuters

The UN’s envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, on Monday blasted “Israeli settlement expansion”, saying it has surged in the two months since the diplomatic Quartet called to end it.

The Quartet report, released in July, called on Israel to stop its construction in Judea and Samaria, but also criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) for its incitement to terrorism against Israelis.

The Middle East Quartet is made up of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

But Mladenov, speaking to the UN Security Council, on Monday claimed that this appeal had fallen on deaf ears.

"Its recommendations continue to be ignored, including by a surge in Israeli settlement-related announcements and continuing demolitions," Mladenov charged, in comments quoted by AFP.

The Quartet report was to serve as the basis for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian Authority (PA) peace process that has been comatose since an American initiative collapsed in April 2014.

Since July 1, Israeli has advanced plans for over 1,000 housing units in eastern Jerusalem and 735 units in Judea and Samaria, Mladenov said.

He further claimed that Israel has undertaken a land survey on the outskirts of Bethlehem for the establishment of a new “settlement” in a move that he claimed would contribute to the "dismemberment of the southern West Bank,"

Mladenov singled out the Bedouin communities from eastern Jerusalem and the Susiya area, warning that "the demolition of this community would set a dangerous precedent for displacement."

"All of these plans would essentially create new illegal settlements and I call on Israel to cease and reverse these decisions," he charged, adding that a 1979 Security Council resolution which declared Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria illegal "equally true and even more urgent a concern today."

The Prime Minister’s Office rejected Mladenov’s assertions in a statement released Monday evening.

“The remarks of the UN envoy to the Security Council today distort history and international law and only distance peace,” it said.

“Jews have lived in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria for thousands of years and their presence there is not an obstacle to peace. The obstacle to peace is the attempt to incessantly deny the relationship of Jews to their historical land and the stubborn refusal to acknowledge that they are not foreigners there,” continued the statement.

“The claim that Jewish construction in Jerusalem is illegal is as absurd as the claim that American construction in Washington or French construction in Paris are illegal. The Palestinian demand for ethnic cleansing of Jews in its future state is horrifying, and the UN should be condemning it instead of adopting it.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has previously rejected the Quartet’s report equating between PA incitement to terrorism and Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria, though he did welcome its recognition of the dangers of PA incitement.

Monday’s remarks are not the first time that Mladenov has blamed Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria for being an obstacle to peace.

Shortly after the Quartet report was released, the UN envoy warned that a two-state solution to the Israeli-PA conflict is “slipping away”, and added, Can anyone question that illegal settlements ... are not undermining the prospect for a two-state solution?"




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