Israel at UN says Europe’s ‘automatic’ support for Palestinians harming peace
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Israel at UN says Europe’s ‘automatic’ support for Palestinians harming peace

14 other UN Security Council members rebuke US on settlements decision, Palestinians scoff at Washington’s stance as undermining ‘what is left of US credibility’

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon listens to speakers during a meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon listens to speakers during a meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said Wednesday that European countries’ “automatic” support for the Palestinians is preventing the resumption of peace talks between the sides.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a Security Council meeting on the Middle East, Danon slammed the “automatic support of some European countries” for the Palestinian position.

“When Palestinians see that their battles are being fought for them, why would they agree to come to the negotiating table where they would have to compromise?” Danon said, according to quotes released from his office.

“If you want to truly help, you must change your approach because your criticism is preventing direct negotiations.”

He echoed the remarks later while speaking to the Security Council, calling the approach “Pavlovian.”

At the Security Council meeting, the Palestinian ambassador, Riyad Mansour, slammed the US for its Monday announcement that it no longer views Israel’s settlements in the West Bank as illegal.

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Karen Riyad Mansour listens to speakers during a meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Mansour said the announcement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will not have any effect on the situation in Israel or the West Bank.

“The illegal announcement by the US violates international law and will not affect the legal or political situation in the occupied Palestinian Territories or East Jerusalem, it will only affect the image and credibility of the US, or what is left of it,” he told council members.

Danon also addressed the question, praising the US decision as “righting a historical wrong.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes a statement during a press conference at the US Department of State in Washington, DC, on November 18, 2019. (JIM WATSON/AFP)

“Judea and Samaria are inseparable parts of the Jewish people’s homeland. This is not a recent development or claim, but a historical truth that will never again be denied,” he said.

He slammed the international community for using “questionable legal tools” to try to solve “a political conflict.”

Before the meeting began, five European allies of the United States — Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Poland — reiterated in a joint statement that “all settlement activity is illegal under international law.”

The Europeans called on Israel “to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power,” saying such activity “erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.”

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, opened the meeting expressing “regret” at the US action and reiterating the UN position that settlements under a December 2016 council resolution “are a flagrant violation under international law.”

He also warned that the situation in Gaza remains “highly volatile” after “the most serious recent escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants” that followed Israel’s targeted killing of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror commander.

Cherith Norman Chalet, a deputy US ambassador, repeated Pompeo’s announcement on settlements, which repudiated a 1978 State Department legal opinion holding that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.”

She stressed that “this complex political problem” can be resolved only through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

“The US government is expressing no view on the particular legal status of any individual settlement, nor are we addressing or prejudging the ultimate status of the West Bank — that is for Israelis and Palestinians to decide,” Chalet said.

Indonesian Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani, whose country has the world’s largest Muslim population, called the US announcement “irresponsible and provocative,” saying it “incontrovertibly constitutes a de facto annexation and is a barrier to peace efforts based on the two-state solution.”

After speeches by the 15 council members, Israel’s Danon and Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour, the council held closed consultations.

When that session ended, ambassadors from the 10 non-permanent council members who serve two-year terms stood before reporters while Deputy German Ambassador Jurgen Shultz read a critical joint statement.

“Israeli settlement activities are illegal, erode the viability of the two-state solution and undermine the prospect for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace” as affirmed by the 2016 council resolution, the statement said.

It also called on Israel to end all settlement activity and expressed concern at calls for possible annexation of areas in the West Bank.

Kuwaiti Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi, the Arab representative on the council, then told reporters that 14 countries agreed in the private session on the press statement.

He said one country objected — a clear reference to the United States.

The UN Security Council holds a meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador, said he was grateful to the 14 council nations and their commitment to international law, saying that all 193 U.N. member nations are required to implement all Security Council resolutions, including on the illegality of all settlements.

In a response to Danon, Mansour sharply criticized “the nonsense on one delegation inside the chamber saying that you, international community, if you abide by international law, you help the Palestinians not to come to negotiations.”

“If we abandon international law, including Security Council resolutions, it will be the law of the jungle,” he warned.

Mansour called the US action “another step in our struggle to defend our rights, and our march to end the occupation” and have an independent state.

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