UNITED NATIONS - The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday urged the U.N. Security Council to condemn Israel’s plans to build thousands more homes for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said Israel’s announcement this week that it would add 1,000 housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and its earlier decisison to build 2,600 residential units there were exacerbating tensions and impeding peace.
“Since its occupation began in 1967, Israel, the occupying power, has never ceased its unlawful attempts to create facts on the ground to alter Palestine’s demography, character, legal status and geography," Mansour said. "It has targeted occupied East Jerusalem in specific with such illegal measures and has openly permitted and supported the illegal and violent actions of its settlers and extremists in the city.”
Mansour warned that the territorial contiguity and integrity of Palestinian land was in jeopardy and that such acts diminish the viability of a two-state solution.
Violence has surged in the wake of the settlements announcement, leading to security incidents and restricted access to holy sites in Jerusalem at the Temple Mount compound.
Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor said Palestinian outrage about settlement construction was a pretext for the Palestinians to avoid compromises. He added that Israel would not change its settlement policies.
“The people of Israel are not occupiers and we are not settlers," he said. "Israel is our home and Jerusalem is the eternal capital of our sovereign state.”
Security Council members, including the United States, overwhelmingly condemned the escalation in settlement building. U.S. envoy David Pressman said Washington was “deeply concerned” by the development.
“We urge all parties to refrain from provocative actions, including settlement activity by Israeli authorities," Pressman said. "Settlement activity will only further escalate tensions at a time that is already tense enough. The United States views settlement activity as illegitimate.”
Jordan, which called for Wednesday's emergency meeting, demanded that Israel cease all unilateral measures, saying it has a responsibility to not change the facts on the ground. Jordan’s envoy added that it would continue to confront Israeli violations at the holy sites by political, diplomatic and legal means.
The Palestinians hope to have the council adopt a resolution calling for an end to Israel’s occupation no later than 2016, but the council has so far not taken action on it.
Mistrust and tension remain high between Israelis and Palestinians after the 50-day war earlier this year in the Gaza Strip that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and six Israelis.