UN takes aim at calls for Israeli annexation of West Bank

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 18 2017 08:31 AM

A general view shows a construction site in the Israeli settlement of Efrat, in the occupied West Bank. Reuters

UNITED NATIONS - Calls for Israel to annex parts or all of the Palestinian West Bank risk destroying prospects for peace, the UN envoy for the Middle East warned Tuesday.

Some Israeli ministers have called for an annexation of land earmarked to be part of a future Palestinian state and US President-elect Donald Trump's pick to be ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has voiced support for such a move.

UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov delivered the warning to the Security Council, which met for the first time since the adoption of a contentious resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements.

"In the aftermath of the vote, emotions on the ground have been heightened," he said.

"Calls have been made for the annexation of parts of or the whole of Area C," which constitutes about 60 percent of the West Bank.

"Such divisive positions risk destroying the prospects for peace."

Mladenov called on "all stakeholders" to avoid any unilateral action that would "prejudge a negotiated final status solution."

The resolution criticizing Israel's settlements policy was adopted after the United States refused to resort to a veto to block the measure, instead abstaining and allowing it to pass by a vote of 14-0.

At the Paris conference, some 70 countries affirmed their support for a two-state solution that would see a state of Palestine co-existing alongside Israel.

Israel and the Palestinians remain far apart on the peace process, with attention now turning to whether Trump will move to shore up Israel's refusal to halt settlements.

Under the resolution adopted last month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will report to the council every three months on whether Israel is in violation of the UN demand to stop expanding Jewish outposts.

Trump has promised to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in what would be a break from the majority of countries that does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Under the Oslo peace accords, the status of Jerusalem, including whether East Jerusalem will be the capital of a Palestinian state, is to be agreed in negotiations.

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