IBSA asks Israel to stop settlement activities

IBSA, a group of emerging powers, has asked Israel to stop the "illegal" settlement activities in occupied territories.

United Nations: Voicing deep concern over
the deteriorating Middle East situation, India, Brazil and
South Africa (IBSA), a group of emerging powers, has asked
Israel to stop the "illegal" settlement activities in occupied
territories and condemned violent attacks on Palestinians.

After hearing a UN Security Council briefing on the
situation in the Middle East by Assistant Secretary General
for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, IBSA said
Israel`s continued settlement activities were a major
roadblock to peace negotiations with Palestinians.

"We are deeply disturbed by the deterioration of
situation on the ground and the escalation of violence,"
Brazil`s UN Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, accompanied
by Indian deputy Permanent Representative Manjeev Singh Puri,
told reporters here.

She said the IBSA countries believe that continued
settlement activities by Israel are "not only illegal under
international law but also a major obstacle to peace."

Israel has to stop settlement activities, not as a
"concession" in the course of the negotiations but rather as
an obligation under various UN Security Council resolutions
and international law.

IBSA also condemned the increasing violence by settlers
against Palestinians living in adjacent areas.

Demanding action against those indulging in such
violence, Viotti said evictions and demolition of
Palestinians` homes are equally disturbing.

It is also a matter of concern that Israel is yet to
submit its proposals on security and border to the quartet of
US, UN, Russia and EU envoys while the Palestinian side has
already submitted the proposals, she said.

"The IBSA countries believe the UNSC has an essential
irreplaceable role to play in the peace process mainly by
condemning violence, calling for a complete halt to settlement
activities and calling for the implementation of all its
resolutions," Viotti said.

Britain, France, Germany and Portugal also said in a
joint statement that they were "dismayed by these wholly
negative developments" and called on the Israeli government to
stop attacks on mosques and Palestinians by extremist

"The viability of the Palestinian state that we want to
see and the two-state solution that is essential for Israel`s
long-term security are threatened by the systematic and
deliberate expansion of settlements," the statement read by
Britain`s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said.

The EU powers condemned the escalation of violence by
settlers, including the burning of the Nebi Akasha mosque in
west Jerusalem and the Burqa mosque in the West Bank, terming
the attacks as "deliberately provocative" and designed to
"aggravate tensions."

Fernandez-Taranco told the UN Security Council that the
realisation of a two-State solution for Israelis and
Palestinians has not advanced, with violent incidents erupting
at a worrying rate over the past month.

"As the year draws to a close, the situation on the
ground is deteriorating and the path towards peace remains
dangerously uncertain," he said.

"We must not allow these negative dynamics to prevail ?
too much is at stake. Our challenge remains to assist the
parties to overcome them," he said, citing the need to
de-escalate the situation, return to direct talks with serious
proposals on borders and security, and to stop provocations.

Direct talks stalled in late September last year after
Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in
the occupied Palestinian territory.

That decision prompted Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from direct talks with Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which had only resumed a few
weeks earlier after a two-year hiatus.

The past month witnessed a series of developments that
are cause for "continued serious concern," Fernandez-Tarancohe
said, pointing to the announcement of several new settlement
constructions, the demolition of 57 Palestinian structures in
the West Bank, an increase in settler violence and over 300
Israeli military operations in the West Bank.


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