By Ilana Messika/TPS
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded on Tuesday to the statements made by United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov that the Israeli presence in Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem constitutes an impediment to peace.
“The UN envoy to the Middle East’s remarks to the Security Council distort history and international law and drive peace even further away,” Netanyahu claimed in a statement.
“Jews have been in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria for thousands of years and their presence there is not an obstacle to peace,” the prime minister stated. “The obstacle to peace is the unending attempt to deny the Jewish people’s connection to parts of their historic land and the obdurate refusal to recognize that they are not foreigners there,”
“The claim that Jewish construction in Jerusalem is illegal is as absurd as the claim that American construction in Washington or French construction in Paris is illegal,” Netanyahu continued. “The Palestinian demand that a future Palestinian state be ethnically cleansed of Jews is outrageous, and the UN must condemn it instead of adopting it.”
Mladenov had called upon Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Monday in a video briefing to the United Nations Security Council from his office in Jerusalem to “reverse the negative trajectory” of the peace process.
Mladenov also claimed that the recent recommendations by the Middle East Quartet report in July, 2016 had been grossly ignored. The report had listed continued violence, terrorist attacks against civilians, incitement to violence, settlement construction and expansion, and the Palestinian Authority’s lack of control in Gaza as the main threats at present to a negotiated peace.
The UN envoy declared that according to UN Resolution 446 of March, 1979, Israeli settlements in occupied territory have no legal validity and have since then constituted an obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East.
“No legal acrobatics can change the fact that all outposts, whether ‘legalized’ under Israeli law or not, whether located on state land, absentee land, or private land, just like all settlements in Area C and in East Jerusalem, remain illegal under international law,” Mladenov insisted.
Mladenov reported that since July 1, Israel has moved plans forward for over 1,000 housing units in eastern Jerusalem—in Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot, Har Homa, and Gilo—as well as 735 units in Ma’ale Adumim and other settlements in the West Bank, while allocating funding for more.
The terse exchange of statements between the UN envoy and the Israeli prime minister follows a recent diplomatic crisis faced by the UN and Israel last month when Waheed Borsh, an engineer employed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Gaza, was indicted on August 9 for using his position to funnel resources to the Hamas terrorist organization.
According to Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, Mladenov’s remarks hindered the peace process while further validating the UN’s hypocritical attitude towards Israel.
“His words are in complete isolation from the facts on the ground,” said Danon. “Israel will continue to build the eternal capital of Jerusalem, just as the nations of the world will continue to build capitals without checking in with the United Nations.”
“The UN should concentrate on solving the main obstacle in the area, which is the Palestinian refusal to condemn terrorism and to return to the negotiating table,” he concluded.