Sun, Jul 03, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Quartet report condemns Israel’s settlement policy

URGENT ACTION NEEDED:Affirmative steps should be taken to prevent entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict, the report said


Houses are pictured in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Karmel, near Hebron, Palestine, on May 24.

Photo: Reuters

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.

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