Israel is acting immorally by escalating settlement building in response to Palestinian terrorist attacks, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said on Tuesday.“Settlement construction is not a morally appropriate way to respond to murder,” he told the UN Security Council during its monthly meeting in New York.
Mladenov’s statement took aim at the long-standing right-wing Israeli contention, one held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that settlement building is the best way to thwart Palestinian terrorism.While Mladenov issued a global condemnation of violence, he did not specifically condemn Palestinian terrorism against Israel in the same way that he focused on Israeli settlement construction. “I call upon all sides to reject violence, condemn terror, ensure accountability and work to reduce tensions,” he said.Mladenov did mention terrorism victim Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal, who was stabbed to death earlier this month. He also spoke of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, who was shot to death near the Havat Gilad outpost last month.But he did so within the context of addressing Israel’s failure to heed the UN Security Council’s call to halt settlement building.“Throughout the reporting period, Israel’s illegal settlement-related activities continued unabated,” Mladenov said. “In response to last month’s killing of a resident of the illegal Havat Gilad outpost, on February 4, Israel approved the establishment of a new settlement to absorb its residents,” Mladenov said.“I strongly denounce the expansion of the settlement enterprise as compensation for Israeli deaths,” he said.At a briefing in New York, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, was quizzed about Mladenov’s comment.“Isn’t the converse really true, that murder is not a really appropriate way to respond to settlement construction,” a reporter asked.Dujarric responded: “There is a need to break the circle and to encourage both parties to come back to the negotiating table.”At the UN Security Council, Mladenov called on the international community to find a way to halt settlement activity.A push should also be made to transfer portions of Area C from Israeli military control to the civilian control of the Palestinian Authority, Mladenov said. He also called for a two-state resolution to the conflict and called on Israeli and the Palestinian leaders to negotiate the details of such a plan.“In this chamber, Mr. President, we have often spoken of the need for leadership on both sides to reach a deal, a compromise, through negotiations that would allow Israelis and Palestinians to separate and be masters of their own fate,” Mladenov said.“Mr. President, these negotiations would not be negotiations between equals,” he said.“For one side is under military occupation. Its leadership has committed to a peaceful solution to the conflict through negotiation,” Mladenov said. “I urge the international community not to give up on support for the moderate Palestinian leadership or on building up the institutions that will increase the chances of success.”“Our window of opportunity is closing and, if we do not seize it quickly, the Israeli – Palestinian conflict will be engulfed in the whirlwind of religious radicalization that remains present in the region,” he said.
Jerusalem Post interview with Nickolay E. Mladenov at the 2018 INSS conference