EU members of Security Council demand end to settlement construction


December 28, 2011
Sarah Benton


“All settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem, must cease immediately”

Joint statement by European Union Security Council members
20.12.11

We have just heard a briefing from Mr Fernandez-Taranco about the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories. One of the themes that emerged was the severely damaging effect that increased settlement construction and settler violence is having on the ground and on the prospects of a return to negotiations. The UK, France, Germany and Portugal are dismayed by these wholly negative developments.

Israel’s continuing announcements to accelerate the construction of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, send a devastating message. We call on the Israeli government to reverse these steps. 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. Settlements are illegal under international law and represent a serious blow to the Quartet’s efforts to restart peace negotiations. All settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem, must cease immediately.

We condemn the disturbing escalation of violence by settlers including the burning of the Nebi Akasha mosque in West Jerusalem and the Burqa mosque in the West Bank. It is clear that these deliberately provocative attacks on places of worship were designed to aggravate tensions. We welcome the condemnation of these attacks by Israeli leaders, and call on the Israeli government to fulfil its commitment to bring the perpetrators to justice and to put an end to impunity. The package of measures announced by Prime Minister Netanyahu in response to settler violence goes in the right direction. We look forward to seeing the results of these measures, and to seeing those behind the violence punished to the full extent of the law.

A bold demonstration of political will and leadership is needed from both sides to break the current impasse. We call the parties to present as soon as possible to the Quartet comprehensive proposals on territory and security, following its statement of September 23rd. We look to both parties to return to negotiations as soon as possible. We remain ready to contribute to achieving the goal of successful negotiations.

We continue to be seriously concerned about the current stalemate in the Middle East Peace Process. Our primary goal remains a just and lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We are committed to working to turn this ambition into reality: the creation of a sovereign, independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living in peace and security side by side with Israel.

For those negotiations to be successful, they will need to achieve four things:

●An agreement on the borders of the two states, based on June 4 1967 lines with equivalent land swaps agreed between the parties.

●Second, security arrangements that respect Palestinian sovereignty and show that the occupation is over, and that protect Israeli security, preventing the resurgence of terrorism and dealing effectively with new and emerging threats.

●Third, a just, fair and agreed solution to the refugee question.

●And fourth, fulfilment of the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem. Through negotiations, the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states must be resolved.

We believe that Israel’s security and the realisation of the Palestinians’ right to statehood are not opposing goals. On the contrary they are mutually reinforcing objectives. But they will not be achieved while settlement building and settler violence continues.


Israel officials: Security Council criticism on West Bank violence ‘disgusting’

Foreign Ministry sources describe outrage in wake of what they call a European-led assault on Israel, interference in Israel’s internal affairs.

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz
21.12.11

The diplomatic face-off between Israel and the European members of the United Nations Security Council began as soon as Tuesday night, following the UNSC’s monthly session on the Middle East.

A senior Foreign Ministry official told Haaretz that what would have been a mundane discussion turned into an “attack on Israel,” lead by Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin along with the Indian, Brazilian, and South African representatives.

However, sources said that the assault wasn’t limited to the representatives of those nations, with European UNSC members joining in as well. The only country reportedly not engaging in the unusual bout of criticism was the United States.

The discussion’s focal points were the so-called “price tag” attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank; continued settlement construction; and claims that Israel refused to provide the Quartet with its stances on issues such as borders and security arrangements in a future peace deal with the Palestinians.

“The whole debate was conducted in a disgusting manner,” a Foreign Ministry official with knowledge of the UNSC proceedings told Haaretz, adding that “Israel was assaulted with every minute detail, mentioning every mosque that was torched and arguing that state authorities weren’t doing anything to stop settler attacks against Palestinians.”

Foreign Ministry officials said that the EU representatives “hijacked” the session, when, following it, they decided to release a joint statement detailing the contents of the sealed meeting.

In the statement the diplomats criticized 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.”

The envoys called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s denouncement of the acts a “step in the right direction,” adding, however, that they were waiting to see real results.

On Wednesday, Foreign Ministry director general Rafael Barak held a special ministry session following the statement, with one source saying that the Germany and U.K.-led maneuver managed to enrage even the most moderate among ministry officials, who usually disagree with Foreign Ministry Avigdor Lieberman on his tough stances regarding the Palestinians.

“The Europeans pulled out the horn and turned up the volume to a thousand decibels,” one official said, adding that the move was “unacceptable and unfriendly.”

Most of the Foreign Ministry indignation was over a portion of the statement that dealt with the price tag attacks, and which hinted that the Israeli government wasn’t acting to apprehend the perpetrators.

“It’s a blatant interference in Israel’s internal affairs,” one ministry official said, adding that that statement is “a veiled threat that if Israel doesn’t prosecute the perpetrators the EU will drag it into international courts,” he added.

According to a senior Foreign Ministry official, Israeli embassies in Germany, U.K., France, and Portugal were instructed to submit a harsh protest to their local foreign ministries by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, an unprecedentedly severe official response was made, in which Israel attacked the three most powerful nations of Europe, considered Israel’s closest friends on the continent.

However, even with that backlash against the U.K., France, Germany, and Portugal, the Foreign Ministry has decided against publicly or diplomatically appealing to Russia, whose UN envoy led the anti-Israel attack.

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