UN Security Council Members Blast Israel Over Settlement Construction Plans

U.S. blocks attempts to push joint presidential statement and resolution condemning construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; In addition to thousands of new housing units, a new highway is being built that will cut the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa in two.

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Fourteen members of the UN Security Council on Wednesday condemned Israel for advancing construction plans in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The council’s European Union members issued a statement saying these plans undermine their faith in Israel’s willingness to negotiate.

The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee approved on Wednesday the construction of a large Jewish neighborhood, Givat Hamatos, in the city’s south, over the Green Line, despite the global protests. The Jerusalem municipality has also begun building a major highway through the pastoral Beit Safafa neighborhood, cutting it in two.

A Foreign Ministry source said the U.S. blocked a joint presidential statement by all members of the Security Council condemning the settlement construction plans. The source said that the U.S. also blocked a vote on an official resolution condemning Israel’s actions.

The UN Security Council session focused on construction in the settlements, especially building plans in E-1, a land strip between Jerusalem and the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement. Afterward the various ambassadors rebuked Israel one after the other. Especially harsh was a joint statement issued by the council’s four European Union ambassadors - Britain, France, Germany and Portugal.

“Israel’s announcements that it will accelerate the construction of settlements send a negative message and are undermining faith in its willingness to negotiate,” said the statement, read by UK Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant.

The EU representatives expressed deep concern and strong objection to Israel’s plans to expand construction of East Jerusalem neighborhoods and West Bank settlements, calling on Israel to cease all its activities in the settlements immediately.

“The viability of the two-state solution ... is threatened by the systematic expansion of settlements,” Lyall Grant said. “Settlements are illegal under international law and detrimental to any international efforts to restart peace negotiations and secure a two-state solution.”

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, told journalists he was angry the Security Council, which instead of dealing with the ongoing massacre in Syria continues to focus on Israel. “Fighter jets bombed a Palestinian refugee camp and dozens were killed, but the Security Council decided to discuss plans for Jewish homes in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people,” he said.

More than 2,600 housing units are slated to be built in the new Givat Hamatos neighborhood in East Jerusalem, under the plan approved Wednesday.

The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee was scheduled this week to discuss another project for 900 more homes in the same area, but the deliberations were postponed.

Approval for the Givat Hamatos project came two days after a committee sub-panel gave its preliminary go-ahead to a plan to build 1,500 housing units in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. Both announcements were made just two weeks after Israel declared its intention to construct 3,000 new residential units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, raising the ire of the international community.

In a related development, the Jerusalem municipality is constructing a highway running through Beit Safafa, cutting the pastoral southern Jerusalem neighborhood in two.

The road, passing mere meters away from residents’ homes, will not only ruin their quality of life but will cut many of them off from the mosque, bakery, nursery school and other facilities located a few minutes’ walk away. They will now have to travel a long way via roads, underpasses and bridges to get to the other side of the village.

A session of the UN Security Council.Credit: AP

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