UN Security Council urged to discuss settlements as ‘obstacle to peace’


(JTA) — Five countries requested that the United Nations Security Council discuss Israeli settlements in a move that may lead to a session on the subject next week.

Initiated by the Palestinians, the meeting was formally requested by Malaysia, Venezuela, Senegal, Egypt and Angola in a plea titled “The settlements as the obstacle to peace and a two-state solution,” The Times of Israel reported Friday.

The news site reported the request may be the opening shot of a renewed Palestinian initiative to pass a resolution condemning Israel for the contentious issue.

“The existence and expansion of the settlements on Palestinians lands which were occupied in 1967 endanger a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the two-state solution,” according to a position paper distributed to participants that was obtained by the Israeli news site Ynet on Friday.

The paper castigates Israel and the Israeli security forces for “overlooking violent acts of the settlers against Palestinians and not giving them the protection to which they are entitled under international law.”

Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, criticized the Palestinians for the initiative, accusing them of “using the international community to harm the State of Israel instead of stopping incitement and sitting at the negotiation table.”

News of the initiative came amid a week of diplomatic tussling between Israel and the United States over the settlements issue following Israeli approval last week of construction of housing units in the West Bank for the residents of the Amona outpost ahead of their court-ordered evacuation. The plan calls for two phases of construction, with another 200 units to be approved after a first round of 98 homes is completed.

In the past, the United States has vetoed the passing of resolutions condemning Israel at the Security Council.

The State Department said this week that Israel’s “recent decision to advance a plan that would create a significant new settlement deep in the West Bank.” Invoking the name of Israel’s former president who died last week, spokesman Mark Toner added: “[I]t is disheartening that while Israel and the world mourned the passing of President Shimon Peres, and leaders from the U.S. and other nations prepared to honor one of the great champions of peace, plans were advanced that would seriously undermine the prospects for the two-state solution that he so passionately supported.”

On Thursday, a New York Times editorial called on the Security Council to set the parameters for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The best idea under discussion now would be to have the United Nations Security Council, in an official resolution, lay down guidelines for a peace agreement covering such issues as Israel’s security, the future of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and borders for both states,” the paper said.

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