The United States on Friday called for immediate action to salvage the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the Security Council weighed its next steps to revive peace prospects.
US Deputy Ambassador David Pressman told an informal council meeting on Israeli settlements that the continued building of Jewish outposts on Palestinian land was “corrosive to the cause of peace.”
“We need to start implementing the two-state solution on the ground right now,” Pressman told the meeting organized by Angola, Egypt, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela.
During the session, the head of Israeli human rights group B’Tselem Hagai El-Ad told the council that Israel was creating facts on the ground in advance of any peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon later slammed B’Tselem for taking part in the forum, citing Thursday’s passage of a resolution by UNESCO that rejects Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s holy sites.
UN diplomats have kept one eye on the US presidential campaign as they consider whether to move on a Security Council resolution that could nudge the sides back to the negotiating table.
The outcome of the US vote on November 8 could lead to a shift in relations between Washington and its close ally Israel.
Pressman reiterated Washington’s long-standing view that a final peace agreement must be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.
“But significant progress toward creating a two-state reality can be made now that will help restore hope and lay the groundwork for successful negotiations,” he added.
“Israel must decide between expanding settlements and preserving the possibility of a peaceful two-state solution.”
Arab governments are considering plans to present a draft resolution to the Security Council demanding a halt to Israel settlements, but a similar measure was vetoed by the United States in 2011.
The United Nations has branded the settlements illegal, but the Security Council has not taken action to uphold that decision.
Venezuela’s Ambassador Rafael Ramirez accused the United States, which has veto powers, of “maintaining a blockade” at the Security Council and preventing action on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, settlement construction has surged.
“Let’s call a spade a spade,” said French Ambassador Francois Delattre.
“This policy is jeopardizing prospects for a future viable Palestinian state that would provide the best guarantee of Israel’s security and offer a just and durable solution to the conflict.”
France is offering to host an international conference to be held before the end of this year on relaunching the peace process.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said Arab ministers are to meet later this month to decide whether to push for a draft resolution condemning Israeli settlements and also to press for full Palestinian membership in the United Nations.
Palestine was granted the status of UN non-member observer state in 2012.