External Affairs

UN Envoy Says Israel Is Flouting Security Council Ruling Regarding Settlements

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem June 11, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Ariel Schalit

United Nations: Israel is flouting a United Nations Security Council demand to halt settlement building on occupied Palestinian land, while both parties are ignoring a call to stop provocation, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, a senior UN envoy said on Tuesday.

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov made the assessment in his second quarterly report to the 15-member council on the implementation of a December 23 resolution adopted with 14 votes in favour and a US abstention. Then US President-elect Donald Trump and Israel had urged Washington to wield its veto.

“The policy of continued illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territory contravenes resolution 2334,” Mladenov said.

“The large number of settlement-related activities documented during this period undermine the chances for the establishment of a viable, continuous Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution,” he said.

Israel for decades has pursued a policy of constructing Jewish settlements on territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war with its Arab neighbours. Most countries view Israeli settlement activity as illegal and an obstacle to peace. Israel disagrees.

The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

The December resolution calls on both parties to refrain from acts of provocation, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, and to condemn all acts of terrorism. “Regrettably, such calls continued to go unanswered,” Mladenov said.

Mladenov again warned the council that Gaza, controlled by the Islamist Hamas movement, was a “tinderbox.”

“Two million Palestinians in Gaza can no longer be held hostage by divisions,” he said. “For a decade they have lived under the control of Hamas. They have had to deal with crippling Israeli closures, Palestinian divisions and have lived through three devastating conflicts.”

US Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has accused the Security Council of “bashing Israel,” called on the body to address the threat of Hamas.

“Every ounce of what we do should be against Hamas. They are a dangerous actor who has no care for the Palestinians, no care for the Israelis, and they are determined to destroy everything in their path,” Haley said.

The US traditionally shields Israel, Washington’s long-time ally that receives more than $3 billion in annual US military aid, from council action. The five council veto powers are the US, Russia, France, Britain and China.

The December resolution, put forward by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and Trump, was the first adopted by on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years.

(Reuters)