UN envoy warns against Israel's settlement expansion
A UN envoy on Wednesday warned against Israel’s settlement expansion in occupied Palestinian territories, saying international inaction could mean open-ended occupation and perpetual conflict between Palestinians and Israel.
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process told the Security Council that Israel's planned new settlements in occupied east Jerusalem were 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.
He spoke after Israel revived plans to build 500 new homes for Jewish settlers in occupied east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians hope to make the capital of their future independent state.
The announcement was seen by some as sign that Israel planned to forge ahead with settlements in the wake of the US presidential election victory of Donald Trump, who is expected to be less critical of Israel than Barack Obama.
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and the UN has repeatedly called on Israel to halt them, however there has been a surge in settlement construction over the past few months.
Mladenov told the council that "inaction has a cost - a cost measured in human lives 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 said.
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.
Agencies contributed to this report