UN peace quartet condemns illegal Israeli settlements

UN peace quartet condemns illegal Israeli settlements
A report that is set to provide a road map for a potential peace deal between Israel and Palestinian Authority officials, has condemned Israel's expansion of illegal settlements.
3 min read
01 July, 2016
Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 [AFP]

The Middle East diplomatic quartet has demanded that Israel halts is expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank.

The group also called for Palestinians to "renounce violence", in a report that it hopes will serve as a "wakeup call" for the two embattled parties.

Nickolay Mladenov, a Bulgarian diplomat and working as the quartet's coordiniator, said ongoing Israeli construction in the West Bank was one of three "negative trends" that must be reversed.

Mladenov also blamed violence and incitement, settlements and the Palestinian Authority's lack of control over the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip as severly undermining hopes of a peace deal.

The report comes as a 13-year-old Israeli girl was stabbed to death at her home at an Israeli settlement in the Occupied Territories, allegedly by a Palestinian boy who was shot dead.

"These negative trends can and must be urgently reversed in order to advance the two-state solution on the ground," he told the United Nations Security Council.

The 10-page report prepared by the quartet - the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations - is to be released on Friday after several delays.

Its findings and recommendations are to serve as the basis for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that has stalled since a US initiative collapsed in April 2014.

In an interview with AFP, Mladenov said he hoped the report would prompt both sides and world leaders to take action to revive the peace process.

"Certainly I would hope that this report would serve as a wakeup call," he said. "We can't leave this the way it is. We simply can't."

The continued construction of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land and a spike in violence are killing off prospects for a peace deal, the report concludes.

"Certainly we want action, on all fronts," said Mladenov.

Endless occupation is a recipe for disaster.
- Nickolay Mladenov

"These are parallel trends that are happening as we speak and they are all in of themselves causes of trouble."

He said that the report should not be seen as a "score card for assigning blame", but rather the consensus view of the quartet powers on what needs to be done to revive prospects for a two-state solution.

Violence in the occupied West Bank and other areas have left at least 211 Palestinians and 33 Israelis dead - as well as five foreigners - since October.

Mladenov declined to say how long it might take to relaunch peace talks, but he argued that a return to negotiations was the only course of action.

"Endless occupation is a recipe for disaster" that will lead to a "perpetual lack of security and violence," he told AFP.

The UN envoy asked the Security Council to endorse the report recommendations in a move that would turn the document into an internationally-agreed roadmap for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said the report could help advance plans for a Paris peace conference on the Middle East later this year.

"The French initiative and the quartet report mutually reinforce each other and have a common goal to put the peace process back on track," Delattre said.

France has set up working groups that will draw up a list of incentives for both the Israelis and the Palestinians to come to the table for talks.

However, there are already concerns that Israel is attempting to scupper the plan after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu invited hardline anti-Palestinian politician Avigdor Lieberman to serve as defence minister.

Lieberman has previously called for the beheading of Palestinians, and is firmly against a peace deal.