“Israel would rather stay an occupying power” than be a partner for peace, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said Saturday.
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Mansour wrote that Israel has proven time and time again, with announcements of new settlement unit construction, that its efforts for peace are insincere.
“Israel continues construction of its illegal settlements, including seizing and looting land, as well as forced displacement of Palestinian families, while building thousands of housing units,” he wrote in the letter.
This “shamelessly shows disrespect for international law and the international efforts to support the peace process,” he added.
Mansour said that due to Israel’s actions, international hopes for a resolution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have “diminished.”
Mansour called on world powers to condemn settlement construction and the displacement of Palestinians, calling it a “war crime.”
“Failure to do so will force the State of Palestine to consider all diplomatic, legal and political means at its disposal to protect its lands,” asserted Mansour.
Last week, Mansour accused Israel of taking advantage of the peace talks to step up its settlement building and to attempt “to ease international pressure in this regard.”
Speaking at a Security Council debate on the renewed peace talks, the UN envoy said that “despite the genuine efforts being exerted, tangible progress remains elusive and hopes are diminishing.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor dismissed international criticism of settler activity, saying “the real obstacle” to peace is the Palestinians insistence on the right of return for millions of Palestinians refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel. Prosor called that demand “a euphemism for the destruction of the State of Israel and a major hurdle to peace.”
Under heavy US pressure, the peace talks resumed in July after five years amid deep skepticism and low expectations from both sides. The negotiations are taking place in secrecy and neither side has given details on their content.