Wednesday 20 November 2013 05:39
The announcement of settlement advancement plans in the West Bank by the Israeli government cannot be reconciled with the goal of a negotiated two state solution.
That was the view expressed by the political head of the United Nations (UN) in a briefing to the Security Council, who urged parties to refrain from actions that undermine the trust and spirit of the fragile peace talks.
The UN’s under Secretary General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman was referring to an announcement on November 13 to advance 24 000 Israeli units and housing tenders in a contentious area outside Jerusalem.
As critical peace talks hang in the balance, the UN has urged Israel to reverse its latest announcement.
Feltman says, “The Secretary General has reiterated the UN’s unequivocal position that settlements are contrary to international law and an obstacle to peace.”
“He expects the government of Israel to put a full stop to these plans. In protest over these developments, Palestinian negotiators submitted their resignations, now under consideration by President Abbas, who has nevertheless made it clear that this does not constitute a Palestinian departure from talks.”
He described a situation on the ground that remained tense with acts of violence and incitement on both sides of the conflict. Feltman expressed serious socio-economic concerns at the situation in Gaza, which also continues to face security challenges.
“On October 31, Israeli forces conducted an incursion some 200m into the Gaza strip to demolish a recently discovered tunnel into Israel. The operation came under attack by Hamas militants and an explosive devise detonated in the tunnel injuring five Israeli soldiers. Subsequent shelling by Israel killed for Hamas militants. “
Feltman says risks to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were ever present. “The risks they face are apparent to all of us. Yet, a two-state solution remains the only way to fully realize the legitimate aspirations of both people 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 tried to reassure council members that international engagement, from the UN, the United States and others remains strong.
While a negotiated two state solution appears to be the only way to realize the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians, the obstacles that keep emerging along the way leave many observers with diminishing confidence at the prospects for success.