The UN Security Council made a rare show of unity Monday when it called on all parties to maintain their support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“Council Members reiterated their support for a negotiated two-state solution… where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,” said a statement released by Belgium, which holds the rotating presidency, and supported by all 14 other members, including the United States.
“All parties should refrain from undermining the viability of the two-state solution in order to maintain the prospects for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace,” the statement added, an allusion to Israel’s recently announced intention to build thousands more homes in East Jerusalem, in an area claimed by the Palestinians.
The council also “stressed the need to exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues” and expressed “grave concern about acts of violence against civilians.”
The statement came amid two days of rising tensions in the region, with the Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad firing rockets at Israel following the killing of three of its members in the Gaza Strip and Syria.
On Thursday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to build 3,000 homes in a new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem’s Givat Hamatos, in addition to another 2,200 housing units for Jews in the nearby Har Homa neighborhood.
The plan for construction in Givat Hamatos was first brought forward in 2012, earning widespread condemnation in the international community over its cutting off of the Palestinian neighborhoods of Beit Safafa and Sharafat from the West Bank, in a manner that critics said placed a nail in the coffin of a two-state solution based roughly on the pre-1967 lines.
The European Union on Saturday warned that construction would be “deeply detrimental to a two-state-solution,” with foreign policy chief Josep Borrell saying it would “cut the geographic and territorial contiguity between Jerusalem and Bethlehem [and] isolate Palestinian communities living in these areas.”
Meanwhile on Monday, Israel and the US moved forward on work to map out areas of the West Bank that Israel would annex under the Trump administration’s peace plan.
American members of the new mapping committee met with Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials, as they pressed ahead with the project.
It was the first time that the two sides have met to work together on deciding which areas Israel will extend sovereignty to, a measure tantamount to annexation.
The American members of the joint committee are US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, his adviser Aryeh Lightstone, and C. Scott Leith, senior adviser for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of the National Security Council.
Also at the meeting were members of the Israeli mapping committee Tourism and Immigration Minister Yariv Levin and Acting Director of the Prime Minister’s Office Ronen Peretz.
Netanyahu has said that Israel will extend sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and other areas of the West Bank in accordance with the US plan only with the agreement of Washington. Washington has said that Israel must hold off on annexing areas of the West Bank until the committee concludes its work, which could take weeks or months.