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Palestinians to UNSC: 'Intervene' on settlements
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH AND TOVAH LAZAROFF
04/26/2012
PLO envoy says settlement activity goes against Road Map commitments, is proof Israel rejects two-state solution.
 
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday asked the UN Security Council to intervene to halt Israeli settlement activities.

In a letter to the presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said that Israel was obligated by the road map peace plan to freeze settlement activities.

“Israel continues directly to neglect and violate all international commitments,” the letter said.

Late on Monday, a small panel of Israeli cabinet members decided to change the status of three outposts — Bruchin, Rehelim and Sansana – to authorized settlements.

In the past Israel promised the international community that it would not create new settlements.

The government said the authorizations did not violate the pledge because decisions were taken by the government more than a decade ago to legalize the three settlements, but for technical reasons, the decisions were never executed.

On Wednesday, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called on Israel to cancel the authorizations.

“I am extremely concerned about the decision... I call upon them to reverse this decision," she said. “The EU has repeatedly called on Israel to end all settlement activity. Settlements are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and threaten the viability of a two-state solution.

“Such measures run counter to the spirit of the Quartet statement of 11 April 2012, which expressed concern about unilateral and provocative actions, including continued settlement activity,” Ashton said.

The UN also criticized the move. The US on Tuesday said that such actions were not helpful to the peace process.

In its letter to the UN Security Council, the PA said that all Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, along with Jewish building in east Jerusalem, was illegal and must be halted.

Ongoing construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem was proof that Israel did not want a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines, Mansour said.

“All settlements built by the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian occupied land, including east Jerusalem, are illegal, whether it were [sic] called settlements, outposts or even communities,” Mansour wrote in his letter.

He said the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibited Israel from establishing settlements in occupied territories, where Article 49 [6] of the convention states that the “occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Mansour condemned the settlement construction as a war crime and a “major obstacle to peace.” He urged the Security Council to act immediately to stop the “illegal actions which are destroying the contiguity, integrity and unity of Palestinian land.”

In response to the letter, an Israeli official urged the Palestinians to deal with the issue of settlements within the framework of negotiations rather than through complaints to the UN.

The official called on the the Palestinians to hold direct negotiations with Israel.

“We are ready to discuss the settlements and all other core issues in the framework of direct negotiations,” he said.
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