We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

A Palestinian works at a construction site in the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem Sebastian Scheiner/AP/Press Association Images
Middle East

US criticised over failure to condemn settlement construction in Palestine

Diplomats have condemned the lack of progress toward a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

FOURTEEN FRUSTRATED MEMBERS of the UN Security Council pointed a finger at the United States for blocking any condemnation of Israel’s accelerated settlement construction in Palestinian territory.

In a move which Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called historic, diplomats from almost all regional blocs represented on the council stepped to the microphone after closed council consultations on the Mideast to condemn the lack of progress toward a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Churkin, the current council president, said the frustration over the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian talks spilled out in statements from the four European Union council members, the Nonaligned Movement, the Arab group, and the group of emerging powers that includes India, Brazil and South Africa.

Clearly referring to the United States, Churkin said dismissively that one delegation believes things will “miraculously” sort themselves out on their own.

“The call for bilateral negotiations without preconditions would seem a normal thing to ask for,” he said.

‘Failure to take action’

But Churkin said the Palestinians are overwhelmed militarily and in every other way by the Israelis and without preconditions they would not get a fair shake in negotiations.

The diplomats — including key US allies in Europe — also criticised the council’s failure to take action against escalating violence by Israeli settlers and urged a speedy resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Britain’s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, also speaking for EU members France, Germany and Portugal, said “Israel’s security and the realization of the Palestinians’ right to statehood are not opposing goals.”

“On the contrary they are mutually reinforcing objectives,” he said. “But they will not be achieved while settlement building and settler violence continues.”

South Africa’s UN Ambassador Baso Sangqu, speaking on behalf of the Nonaligned Movement of mainly developing countries, said settler attacks against Palestinian civilians increased 50 percent this year and called Israeli settlement construction “the main impediment for the two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

While the United States was not mentioned by name, the diplomats anger was clearly directed at Washington which vetoed a resolution in February backed by the 14 other council members that would have demanded an immediate halt to all settlement building.

The Obama administration has also promised to veto any Security Council resolution supporting Palestine’s bid to become the 194th member of the United Nations.

‘Does not support settlement building’

The US has said repeatedly it does not support settlement building. But Payton Knopf, the U.S. Mission’s deputy spokesman, told AP “the only way to resolve the outstanding issues between Israelis and Palestinians is through serious and substantive direct negotiations.”

The United States also opposes Security Council action on “final status issues” because this “would only harden the positions of both sides and make the resumption of negotiations more difficult,” Knopf said.

The Palestinians insist they will not resume peace talks until Israel halts settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which they want as a capital.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed just weeks after they restarted in September 2010 because Israel ended a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction.

Karean Peretz, spokeswoman for Israel’s UN Mission, questioned why the Security Council was focusing on settlements but remained “silent and paralyzed” on pressing issues including civilian killings in Syria, terrorist groups operating in Gaza, attacks on UN forces in Lebanon and Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.

“The main obstacle to peace, has been, and remains, the Palestinians’ claim to the so-called right of return (for refugees) and its refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state,” she told AP.

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Associated Foreign Press
Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.