UN: Settlement Building Contradicts Efforts to Achieve Mideast Peace

UN assistant secretary general tells council session that Israel's decision to build 238 new housing units violates international law.

The United Nations on Monday deplored the breakdown of Middle East peace talks just six weeks after Israeli and Palestinian leaders held their face-to-face talks to try to resolve their long-standing conflict.

UN headquarters AP October 12, 2010

Oscar Fernandez Taranco, UN assistant secretary general for political affairs, told the monthly council session at UN headquarters in New York that Israel's decision to build 238 new housing units violated international law and contradicted efforts by the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia to settle the Middle East conflict.

"Six weeks after direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations began in Washington, we are at an impasse," Taranco said. "

The UN secretary general continues to believe that, if the door to peace closes, it will be very hard to reopen. There is no alternative to a negotiated settlement resulting in the creation of an independent and viable State of Palestine, living side-by-side with the State of Israel in peace and security."

The Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, urged UN Security Council members to exercise their responsibility as keepers of world peace and security by working out a future of peace and security in the Middle East.

Mansour said the current situation in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, is "untenable, unsustainable and volatile as a result of Israel's ongoing illegal actions and provocations against the Palestinian people and their land."

The Israeli government last week approved tenders for a total of 238 new housing units in Jewish settlements in Ramos and Pisgat Zeev in East Jerusalem, despite calls for Israel to maintain the freeze on new housing in order to boost the chance for a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

The newly appointed Israeli ambassador to the UN, Meron Reuben, told the UN Security Council that any future agreement with the Palestinians must be based "on the principles of mutual recognition and security."

"After generations of conflict, mutual recognition will be essential in overcoming a long history of incitement, combating terrorism, and establishing peaceful coexistence between our two peoples," Meron said.

Israel has said it will recognize a Palestinian state as a nation- state of the Palestinian people if the Palestinian people acknowledge that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.

"The wider Arab world must also show Israelis and people around the world that its declaration of peace will go beyond words - and translate into deeds," Meron said.