UN envoy: 'Settlements' are a worrying development

UN envoy to the Middle East links Israeli construction in Jerusalem to the "dangerously" changing situation in the region.

Ben Ariel,

Nickolay Mladenov
Nickolay Mladenov
Reuters

The UN envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, warned on Wednesday that the situation in the Middle East was changing "dangerously" and linked this with Israel building “new Jewish settlements”, AFP reports.

Speaking to the Security Council, Mladenov said that Israel's planned new construction in eastern Jerusalem was part of "increasingly worrying" developments and urged Israel to halt the construction.

"The situation on the ground is changing steadily, dangerously, as proponents of Israeli settlement expansion feel emboldened, internal divisions among Palestinians flare up, and the prospect of a future Palestinian state comes under threat like never before," Mladenov said, according to AFP.

He spoke after Israel revived plans to build 500 new homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. The approval of the plans was revealed to AFP by the leftist group Ir Amim.

In March 2010, the interior ministry announced a plan to build 1,600 homes in Ramat Shlomo.

The announcement, which came as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel, angered the Obama administration with then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton making an angry phone call to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, berating him for announcing the building plans.

The plan was revived last year, though only 900 homes were approved at the time.

The Jerusalem municipality said the plans were "not new and were approved years ago", according to AFP.

Nevertheless, Mladenov told the Council on Wednesday that "inaction has a cost -- a cost measured in human lies and suffering" and took a veiled swipe at Israel by arguing that those who oppose a Palestinian state "offer no viable alternative."

"The alternative is an open-ended occupation, a perpetual conflict which breeds anger among the people of Palestine and Israel, and feeds radicals across the Middle East torn by ethnic and religious strife," he charged.

This is not the first time that Mladenov has blasted Israeli construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. In August, he blasted “Israeli settlement expansion”, saying it has surged since the diplomatic Quartet called to end it.

He has been joined by other Western government, most notably the United States which regularly criticizes Israeli construction.

Arab governments are discussing a proposed draft Security Council resolution demanding a halt to “Israeli settlements”, even though a similar measure was vetoed by the United States in 2011.

Security Council diplomats said such a measure could be adopted by the council next month if the United States, in the final weeks of Obama's administration, decides to refrain from using its veto, according to AFP.




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