UN chief warns Israel settlements are ‘dangerous path’

The United Nations has once again warned that what Tel Aviv is doing as part of its new settlements plans are dangerous, asking Israel to stop it immediately.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday toughened his language as he once more urged Israel to halt plans to build new settler homes on the occupied Palestinian territory, AFP reported.

“I am deeply concerned by heightened settlement activity in the West Bank, in particular around Jerusalem. This gravely threatens efforts to establish a viable Palestinian state,” Ban complained.

“I call on Israel to refrain from continuing on this dangerous path, which will undermine the prospects for a resumption of dialogue and a peaceful future for Palestinians and Israelis alike,” he said.

“The Middle East peace process is in a deep freeze. The two sides seem more polarized than ever, and a two-state solution is farther away than at any time since the Oslo process began,” he warned.

“Let us get the peace process back on track before it is too late.”

Earlier, Ban’s secretary general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman reaffirmed the view that Israel’s settlement building violates international law and could destroy hopes for a negotiated solution.

“If implemented, these plans would represent an almost fatal blow to remaining chances of securing a two-state solution,” he told the Security Council.

“We strongly urge the Israeli government to heed the international calls to rescind these plans,” Feltman said.

Remarks by the U.N. chief were echoed by all members of the U.N. Security Council which criticized Israel and demanded an immediate halt to new settlement construction. The United States was an exception, though.

Representatives of the 14 council members stepped to the microphone outside the chamber after their monthly Mideast briefing Wednesday to denounce the Israeli settlement plans, which they warned is threatening a two-state peace settlement with the Palestinians, according to AP.

The council president said they did so because efforts to get all 15 members to agree on a resolution or statement had failed, almost certainly because of U.S. opposition.

This came after Israel pushed this week through plans for 5,158 new settler homes, more than 80 percent of them in east Jerusalem (Beit-ul-Moghaddas), which the Palestinians see as a capital for a future state.

It has stepped up the building program since November 29, when Palestine won a vote to be accepted as a United Nations non-member state.

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