Author: Chloe Farand
Israel has ignored a demand by the UN Security Council to stop building settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, the UN has warned.
In the first report on the implementation of a UN resolution, which called on Israel “to cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory including east Jerusalem”, the UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said that “no such steps had been taken”.
The resolution did not impose any sanctions on Israel but it enshrined a global disapproval of the settlements.
It was adopted by the Security Council in December with 14 votes in favour and a US abstention.
Israel and then President-elect Donald Trump urged Barack Obama to wield its veto on the resolution.
Mr Mladenov told the council Israel had violated international law by authorising “a high rate” of settlement expansions.
He said that the actions taken by Israel indicate “a clear intent to continue expanding the settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territory”.
In January alone, he said two major announcements were made for a total of 2,500 new houses in existing West Bank settlements.
For decades, Israel has been constructing Jewish settlements on territory captured in 1967 during a war with its Arab neighbours.
Most countries view Israel’s activity as illegal and an obstacle for peace but Israel disagrees. Palestinians are calling for an independent state to be formed from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
“Many of the advancements that were made in the past three months will further sever the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state and accelerate the fragmentation of the West Bank,” said Mr Mladenov.
He added settlements were “one of the main obstacles to peace.”
Mr Mladenov also said some Palestinian groups, including Hamas, are continuing to incite violence against Jews and that an increase in rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel was a “worrying development” that was “undermining the prospects for peace”.
He added it was regrettable that the Palestinian Authority had not condemned the attacks and he slammed the violence as “unacceptable”.
“Reactions by Hamas officials to terror attacks against Israelis have been particularly reprehensible and deserve condemnation,” Mr Mladenov said.
The Security Council resolution was first put forward by Egypt, who then withdrew it under pressure from Israel and Mr Trump, and was put forward again by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said: “There can be no moral equivalency between the building of homes and murderous terrorism. The only impediment to peace is Palestinian violence and incitement.”
Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters: “Settlements need to be stopped, not only because they are illegal, but they are the main obstacle in the path of the two-state solution.”