US: 'Shouting from UN rooftops' won't help peace

State Dept says sides must return to negotiations; Foreign Ministry, Meridor slam European condemnation.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
December 22, 2011 05:52
3 minute read.
United Nations Security Council

United Nations Security Council 311 (R). (photo credit: Mike Segar / Reuters)

 
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The United States on Wednesday addressed the near-complete condemnation of Israeli settlement policy by UN Security Council members the day before and its own vetoes of UNSC resolutions critical of Israel.

"Shouting from the rooftops of the Security Council is not going to change the situation on the ground," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters at the State Department Wednesday. Israelis and Palestinians, she explained, must "get back to the table and settle these issues together, and that's the way we are going to have a lasting, stable peace."

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Addressing a pointed comment by Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who without naming the US specifically accused Washington of believing things will "miraculously" sort themselves out on their own, Nuland said "there are no miracles to be had here."

"There is hard work to be done by the parties, supported by the international community," she added.

Israel's Foreign Ministry responded harshly to the international criticism, saying that “interfering with Israel’s domestic affairs, including on issues which are to be solved within the framework of direct talks, does not enhance the status they [the EU countries] wish to be granted.”

Moreover, the ministry suggested that the council members focus on putting an end to the bloodletting in Syria, helping democracy take root in Arab countries and stopping the danger to world security posed by the Iranian nuclear threat.

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“If, instead of contributing to stability in the Middle East through these steps, they invest their efforts in inappropriate bickering with the one country where there is an independent justice system that knows how to handle lawbreakers of all kinds, they are bound to lose their credibility and make themselves irrelevant,” the ministry said.

Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor told Army Radio on Thursday that the settler "price tag" policy is terrorism, but that Israel does not need an external organization to condemn the attacks.

The round of criticism in the Security Council centered on the announcement by Israel early this week of new construction tenders for building in the West Bank. Though Nuland explained Washington "declined" to join statements condemning the new settlement building in the Security Council, it nonetheless opposed the move.

The US silence at the UN, she said, "doesn't change the fact that our longstanding policy remains that we don't recognize the legitimacy of the continued Israeli settlements." Washington, she explained, doesn't think "statements in the UNSC are the way" to get Israelis and Palestinians back to negotiations, which she said is "the best way to deal with this issue of land [and] settlement."

A statement released on Tuesday by the four current EU members of the UN Security Council – France, Britain, Germany and Portugal – forcefully condemned Israel’s recent announcements of building in the territories and east Jerusalem.

“All settlement activity, including in east Jerusalem, must cease immediately,” the statement said, calling on Israel to reverse these steps, and saying announcements of continued construction “send a devastating message.”

The statement also slammed “the disturbing escalation of violence by settlers,” saying they were “deliberately provocative actions” designed to aggravate tensions.

The statement welcomed Israeli condemnations of the “price-tag” violence, and called on Israel to fulfill its commitments to bring the “perpetrators to justice and to put an end to impunity.”

The statement continued: “The package of measures announced by Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu in response to settler violence goes in the right direction. We look forward to seeing the results of these measures, and to seeing those behind the violence punished to the full extent of the law.”

Herb Keinon also contributed to this report.

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