Thursday, February 23, 2012

Israeli Settlements: UN deplores Israeli approval of more settlements in West Bank

West Bank Israeli settlement of Har Gilo, located near Jerusalem. Photo: IRIN/Erica Silverman

UN - 22 February 2012 – The top United Nations envoy for the Middle East peace process today described as “deplorable” Israel’s announcement that is has given approval to a large number of new settlement units deep inside the occupied Palestinian territory.

“During his recent visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, the Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon] reiterated the United Nations’ well known position that settlement activity is illegal, contrary to Israel’s obligations under the Road Map [to peace] and will not be recognized by the international community,” said Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

“Today’s announcement by Israel to approve a large number of new units deep inside the occupied Palestinian territory in the settlement of Shilo [in the West Bank] and retroactively legitimize hundreds in a nearby outpost is deplorable and moves us further away from the goal of a two-State solution,” Mr. Serry added in a statement.

Mr. Ban had during his visit to the region earlier this month renewed his call for progress in the Middle East peace process, citing the toll taken on the economy and lives of Palestinians by the ongoing Israeli occupation.

“The issue of settlements, which are illegal and hurt prospects for a negotiated solution, clearly has an economic dimension. Settlements and their infrastructure severely restrict access to land and natural resources by the Palestinian people,” he said on 6 February.