Top United Nations officials have warned that Israeli settlement activities in Palestine threaten the fragile hope of a two-state solution.
Senior UN officials on Monday condemned Israel’s illegal building of new homes across the West Bank, erecting a wall within Occupied Palestine and the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.
"The situation in East Jerusalem is of particular concern … especially indications of new settlement construction and house demolitions," Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, said during an open Security Council debate on the Middle East.
Fernandez-Taranco said that the international community was troubled by the recent approval of 20 new housing units in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, as well as the issuing of eviction and demolition orders against Palestinian homes.
"In a significant development yesterday, settlers accompanied by Israeli security forces took physical possession of a house in another area of Sheikh Jarrah," Fernandez-Taranco told the 15- member UN body.
In response to the Sunday move in Sheikh Jarrah, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, stressed that the recent "upsurge in orders for house demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem is contrary to the Road Map."
"Any settlement activity in East Jerusalem is contrary to international law and cannot prejudice the outcome of negotiations," Xinhua quoted Serry as saying.
Fernandez-Taranco noted that in the last month, demolition orders without permit were carried out, destroying three Palestinian homes. A further 13 new orders were issued, and 51 incidents in which 19 Palestinians were injured and a number of properties vandalized by settlers were reported.
At Monday’s open debate, council members also heard that in the five years since the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had stated that erecting a wall within Occupied Palestine was contrary to international law, the barrier has compounded movement restrictions in the West Bank; its planned route encloses 9.5 percent of the area of the West Bank.
Fernandez-Taranco stressed that the Middle East diplomatic Quartet consisting of the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States has called on Israel to reopen all crossings into the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The top UN official also reminded the Security Council that the Secretary-General described the blocking of the Strip as "completely unacceptable," and that the Quartet supports "the UN proposal to kick-start early recovery in Gaza by opening the crossings for materials to complete UN construction work on housing, health and education facilities, suspended since June 2007."