In a move that appears to confirm Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu’s worst nightmare, Deputy US Ambassador to the UN David Pressman told a session of the UN Security Council on Friday that the US is “deeply concerned and strongly opposes settlements which are corrosive to peace,” blaming Israeli settlement activities in Judea and Samaria for creating ” a one state reality on the ground.”
The council meeting, titled “Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution,” was called by member states Egypt, Venezuela, Malaysia, Senegal and Angola. The meeting was pushed by the PA delegation, which earlier this year shelved an anti-settlement proposal in favor of a French-led peace initiative. Attendance was not mandatory and there was no vote, however, it was clearly a signal of things to come, with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry preparing to go after Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as soon as the Nov. 8 vote is cast.
Pressman pointed to the rise in the number of demolitions of illegally constructed Arab homes in Area C of Judea and Samaria as being of particular concern, and called on both sides to adopt policies that encourage rather than impede “implementing the two-state solution.” He also condemned Arab terrorism against Israelis, and argued that by inciting violence the PA is telling the world it isn’t interested in peace.
The Russian representative said the situation in the liberated territories is near “the moment of truth,” and insisted that “settlement construction must stop,” because it creates “Palestinian enclaves” which are disconnected from the world. “Israel needs security, but without the two-state solution, the threat to Israel will grow,”he threatened.
Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, and Lara Friedman, director of policy and government relations at the Americans for Peace Now, were the darlings of the special anti-Israel session. Friedman said that the Israeli investment in settlements shows the state is looking to thwart the two-state solution, and called on the UNSC countries to “send a message” to Israel.
Friedman told the council about an entire system inside and outside the Israeli government dedicated to constructing new settlements and expanding existing ones. She accused Netanyahu’s government of promoting the construction of 11,000 new settlement housing units between 2009 and 2015.
El-Ad complained that “Israel has systematically legalized human rights violations in the occupied territories through the establishment of permanent settlements, punitive home demolitions, a biased building and planning mechanism, taking over Palestinian land and much, much more.” He added that 2016 was the “worst” in terms of the number of illegal Arab structures that were demolished by Israel in Area C, which is under Israeli control according to the Oslo Accords.
Zionist NGO Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg addressed the remarks by El-Ad, saying, “As we have said all along, the term foreign-agent does not do justice to the disgraceful activities of B’Tselem against Israel, which is enabled by funding from foreign governments and the New Israel Fund. History will not forgive those who, in exchange for money, are willing to sell out their country, people, and land.”
Peleg added: “We expect the government to announce that it will cease providing National Service positions to B’Tselem. The organization should be distanced from all contact and cooperation with the IDF and government offices.”