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The New Arab

Israel ignores UN resolution to end illegal settlement building

Israeli settlements are seen as a major stumbling block to peace efforts [AFP]

Date of publication: 25 March, 2017

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The UN has found that Israel ignored a Security Council resolution demanding the halt of settlement building on Palestinian territories, Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said on Friday.
Israel has ignored a Security Council call to halt all settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and has instead authorised "a high rate" of settlement expansions in violation of international law, UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov told the 15-member body on Friday.

Israel's legislation action and announcement of a large number of settlements shows "a clear intent to continue expanding the settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territory," Mladenov told the council. 

The UN "considers all settlement activities to be illegal under international law and one of the main obstacles to peace," Mladenov said.

He called "the January spike" in illegal settlement announcements by Israel "deeply concerning."

During that month, he said, two major announcements were made for a total of 5,500 housing units in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank exclusively controlled by Israel.

"Overall, the last three months have seen a high rate of settlement-related activity, especially when compared to 2016, which saw tenders for only 42 (housing) units issued and some 3,000 units advanced over 12 months in Area C," Mladenov said.

He was delivering the first report to the council on implementation of the resolution it adopted in December condemning Israeli settlements as a "flagrant violation" of international law. 

The resolution was a striking rupture with past practice by President Barack Obama who had the US abstain rather than veto the measure as president-elect Donald Trump demanded. 

The resolution did not impose sanctions on Israel, so the council has not called on to take any action

The resolution did not impose sanctions on Israel, so the council has not called on to take any action. But it does enshrine the world's disapproval of the settlements.

Mladenov said "many advancements in settlements in the past three months will further sever the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state and accelerate the fragmentation of the West Bank." 

"Settlement expansion undermines the very essence of the two-state solution," Mladenov said, "And the resolution states that the international community will not recognise any changes to the 1967 lines other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations."

Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon responded in a statement, saying "The only impediment to peace is Palestinian violence and incitement." 

"This obsessive focus on Israel must end," he added.

Israeli settlements are seen as a major stumbling block to peace efforts, as they are built on land inside the Palestinian territories.

Some 430,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the occupied West Bank and another 200,000 in annexed east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians see as the capital of their future state.

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