Israel should stop building settlements, denying Palestinian development and designating land for exclusive Israeli use that Palestinians seek for a future state, the Middle East peace Quartet recommended on Friday in a an eagerly awaited report.
The report by the Quartet entities sponsoring the stalled peace process — the US, UN, EU and Russia — said the Israeli policy “is steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution.”
“This raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions, which are compounded by the statements of some Israeli ministers that there should never be a Palestinian state,” the eight-page report said.
Amid a spike in violence, the Quartet also criticized Palestinian leaders for “not consistently and clearly” condemning terrorist attacks and said illicit arms buildup and militant activities in Gaza — controlled by the Islamist group Hamas — must stop.
On Friday, an Israeli family car came under Palestinian gunfire near the Jewish settlement of Ottniel and crashed, killing a man, medics said. In the nearby city of Hebron, Israeli police shot dead a Palestinian woman who they said tried to stab one of them after she was detained.
Diplomatic sources said the report carries significant political weight as it has the backing of close Israeli ally the US, which has struggled to revive the peace talks amid tensions between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama.
Relations between the rightist Israeli leader and the Democratic US president have yet to recover from their feud over last year’s US-led nuclear deal with Israeli foe Iran.
Netanyahu’s office welcomed some aspects of the Quartet report, but said Israel took issue with numerous factual and policy assertions. The report also “perpetuates the myth that Israeli construction in the West Bank is an obstacle to peace,” the statement said.
Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, expressed disappointment with the Quartet report.
“Any report that does not include the full withdrawal to the 1967 borders, including occupied Jerusalem, and does not include a recognition of the illegality of settlement will not lead to real and lasting peace and will lead to more tension and more instability in the region,” he said in a statement.
UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov on Thursday briefed the UN Security Council on the report and said it would be up to the council and the international community to use the report to decide the way forward.
A senior US Department of State official on Friday said: “We are open to having the Security Council welcome the report, but that’s all at this point. We’re not looking for serious, substantive, UN Security Council action on this report.”
The Quartet said urgent affirmative steps needed to be taken to “prevent entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict.”
The report said Israel had taken for its exclusive use some 70 percent of Area C, which makes up 60 percent of the occupied West Bank and includes the majority of agricultural lands, natural resources and land reserves.
Under the Oslo Accords of the mid-1990s, Israel retains full control over Area C, where large tracts have been declared closed military areas.
“Israel should implement positive and significant policy shifts, including transferring powers and responsibilities in Area C,” the report said.
It said only one permit for Palestinian housing construction in Area C was reportedly approved in 2014, while there did not appear to have been any approved last year.
The report said at least 570,000 Israelis are living in the settlements, which most countries deem illegal.
“Israel should cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, designating land for exclusive Israeli use and denying Palestinian development,” the report recommends.
The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem — areas Israel captured in a 1967 war. The last round of peace talks broke down in April 2014 and Israeli-Palestinian violence has surged in recent months.
Since October, Palestinian street attacks have killed at least 33 Israelis and two visiting Americans. Israel has killed at least 201 Palestinians, 136 of whom it said were assailants. Others were killed during clashes and protests.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy