‘Annexation would close door on Israeli-Palestinian talks’

UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov spoke as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party heads are at odds over whether the next government would impose sovereignty over West Bank settlements.


By TOVAH LAZAROFF MARCH 31, 2020 10:20

West Bank annexation would make it impossible to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and would destroy any possibility of a two-state resolution to the conflict, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council on Monday.

West Bank annexation would make it impossible to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and would destroy any possibility of a two-state resolution to the conflict, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council on Monday.

“Unilateral steps are detrimental to peace,” he said in a briefing to the council via a video conference.

The conference was not posted on the UN website, but his comments were published after the informal meeting.

“In recent months, Israeli officials have repeatedly stated their intention to annex Israeli settlements and other parts of the occupied West Bank,” Mladenov said. “If implemented, such steps would not only constitute a serious violation of international law, but they would also effectively end the prospect of the two-state solution and close the door to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”

He spoke as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party heads are at odds over whether the next government would impose sovereignty over West Bank settlements.

Mladenov spoke to the UNSC about annexation and Israeli settlement expansion as part of his monthly briefings to the council. During the briefing, Mladenov also presented his quarterly update on Israel’s refusal to comply with 2016 UNSC resolution 2334 that called for a halt to all settlement activity. He included Jewish homes in east Jerusalem in his report on settlement activity.

During the period of December 18 to March 20, Israel advanced or approved plans for 3,700 settler homes in West Bank settlements and 100 in east Jerusalem, Mladenov said. Tenders for some 3,200 settler housing units over the pre-1967 lines were announced, including 1,077 for a new neighborhood in east Jerusalem named Givat Hamatos, he said.

About 30% of the units that were advanced would be built in isolated settlements, far beyond the Green Line, Mladenov explained.

In addition, Israel advanced plans for 3,500 homes in the E1 section of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, as well as for the “so-called ‘sovereignty-road’” that bypasses the construction project, he said.

“If constructed, these [E1] units would expand the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim towards Jerusalem, severing the connection between the northern and southern West Bank, thereby further undermining the possibility of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state,” Mladenov said. “The existence and expansion of settlements further entrench the occupation and systematically erode the possibility of establishing a contiguous and viable Palestinian state, and fuel anger and resentment among the Palestinian population.”

ON THE TOPIC of IDF demolitions, Mladenov noted that Israel had taken down two illegally built modular homes in the Kumi Ori outpost and demolished structures in the outposts of Ma’ale Shlomo and Ma’ale Pinchas, which led to clashes between settlers and security forces. Mladenov called on Israel to halt its demolition of illegal Palestinian homes, given that it remains “very difficult for Palestinians to obtain” building permits. During the reporting period, Israel demolished or seized 96 Palestinian-owned structures, including 50 in east Jerusalem. As a result, he said, 227 people were displaced, including 53 women and 122 children.

He warned that hundreds of Palestinians in east Jerusalem were in danger of forced eviction if the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court orders to evict several Palestinian families from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan were upheld.

Terror and violence continued in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Mladenov noted. Some nine Palestinians, including two children, were killed and some 30 Palestinians were injured by Israeli security forces. He listed incidents showing that two of the Palestinians were killed attacking Israeli security forces and the remainder during clashes with those forces. One of those killed was a Palestinian Authority policeman who was shot to death by the IDF, when “he was inside a police station,” he said, adding that the IDF has opened an investigation into the incident.

“In March, there have been a number of incursions by settlers in Palestinian towns, particularly in Ramallah and Nablus Governorates,” Mladenov said.

Some 30 Israelis, including four children and 19 security personnel, were injured by Palestinians, he said.

The UN envoy dismissed any peace plan, such as the US one that was published in January, that does not comply with past international understandings that a two-state resolution to the conflict must be based on the pre-1967 lines. In February, the UNSC reiterated its support for a two-state solution based on those understandings, he recalled.

Read the full article in The Jerusalem Post


“Now is the time to find a way to move the process forward, and to advance proposals to bring the parties back into a mutually agreed framework that allows for meaningful negotiations to commence,” Mladenov said. “In the absence of a renewed commitment of the parties to pursue concrete measures that will lead to genuine political progress, the situation I’m afraid will continue to deteriorate.”

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