Ban Ki-Moon: Israel Illegal Settlement Activities Hamper Peace Talks

Ban Ki-Moon: Israel Illegal Settlement Activities Hamper Peace Talks
Tue Apr 19, 2016 14:11:23

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has slammed Israel’s illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian lands and said Tel Aviv’s land grab polices are an obstacle to peace.

“I once again reiterate that settlements are illegal under international law and undermine” efforts to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ban told the Security Council in a regular briefing on Monday.

The UN chief further expressed concerns over demolitions of Palestinian homes by Israel as well as ongoing violence in the occupied West Bank and said peace seems “more distant” than ever under the current circumstances.

“The creation of new facts on the ground through demolitions and settlement building raises questions about whether Israel’s ultimate goal is in fact to drive Palestinians out of certain parts of the West Bank, thereby undermining any prospect of transition to a viable Palestinian state,” Ban said.

The UN chief also slammed the ongoing punitive demolitions of homes belonging to families of Palestinians, who allegedly attack Israelis, as an internationally-banned form of collective punishment.

Since last October, about 210 Palestinians have been killed in what is regarded as the third Palestinian Intifada (uprising) that erupted over Israeli plans to change the status quo of the al-Aqsa Mosque, a highly revered Muslim site.

Israel’s expansionist policy was among the major sticking points that led to a freeze in negotiations with Palestinians in 2014. Currently, efforts are underway to revive the stalled process.

Ban further called on both Israelis and Palestinians to engage in constructive dialogue and said the Middle East Quartet – the United States, the UN, the European Union and Russia – is preparing a report on the current situation as well as the threats to the so-called peace process.

He underlined the significance of unity among the Palestinian factions, urging all sides to commit to reconciliation.

“The path out of the current political deadlock requires commitment, compromise, mutual respect and leadership on both sides. It also requires the acceptance – demonstrated by deeds as well as words,” Ban said.

Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank including East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Earlier this month, Israel also resumed construction work on a new section of its controversial Apartheid Wall separating parts of the West Bank from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory.

In recent months, Israeli forces have uprooted dozens of olive trees of Palestinians and leveled land belonging to a number of families in Beit Jala’s Bir Onah area as part of their plans to resume the construction of the wall, which is also close to the illegal Israeli Har Gilo settlement.

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