A senior United Nations official today voiced his growing concern at the series of settlement announcements made by Israel over the past weeks and stressed the need to avoid actions that negatively impact ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
“At this sensitive moment, it is imperative to avoid negative actions and support ongoing talks to preserve the remaining chances of achieving a two-State solution in the interest of Israelis and Palestinians alike,” said a statement issued by the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, who also voiced his deep concern at recent violent incidents.
On Tuesday, Israel reportedly announced plans to build 20,000 new settler homes in the West Bank, prompting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to threaten an end to peace talks that resumed a few months ago after a three-year hiatus.
The statement by Mr. Serry noted that settlement activity cannot be reconciled with the goal of a negotiated two-State solution, and reiterated the UN position that settlements are against international law and an obstacle to peace.
Against this backdrop, the Special Coordinator met today separately with the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.
“He understands from his discussion with chief negotiator [Tzipi] Livni and other Israeli officials that yesterday’s decision to plan a large number of settlement units has been stopped,” said the statement.
Direct talks between the Israeli and Palestinian sides resumed this past August, after stalling in 2010 owing to Israel’s refusal to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.