Israel’s illegal settlement expansion disrupting path to peace: UN official

There are more than 150 Israeli settlements in Palestine, over 128 outposts, and over 750,000 settlers living in stolen houses.

The ongoing illegal expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land has disrupted the path towards peace, a United Nations official told the “Palestinian Youth in East Jerusalem under Occupation“ conference on Thursday.

“The proliferation of illegal settlements on Palestinian land is taking us further and further away from peace and reconciliation. Specifically, the situation in East Jerusalem actively contributes to emboldening tension and resentment,” said Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

Shahid added that the settlement expansion “perpetuates the cycle of violence that has gone on for far too long”, calling for “solution-oriented dialogue” between Palestinians and Israelis.

“Despite the length of time that the world and the UN have spent on this issue, it is sad that little tangible progress has been made, and that the situation only seems to deteriorate with time – enabling the conflict’s penetration into new generations’ minds and lives,” said Shahid.

The discussion was organised by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People with the support of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC].

Shahid stressed the importance of “constructive negotiations” between all parties to resolve what he described as an “Israel-Palestine conflict” in accordance with international human rights law.

“A two-state solution, as outlined in Resolution 181, remains, I believe, the only premise for a just, lasting, and comprehensive conciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, to bring peace, security, mutual recognition and prosperity to all,” he added.

The UN official, who is also the foreign minister of Maldives, emphasised the importance of centering young people in peace efforts and called for their inclusion in discussions on the matter.

“Young people play a particularly critical role in our effort to broker peace in the region. 

“This conflict has torn their families, friends, and communities apart, and has utterly upended their right to a peaceful future built on solid foundations,” said Shahid.

In 2014, the Maldives launched an economic boycott against the Zionist state for its bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip. Occupation forces had bombed the besieged city from 8 July until 26 August, killing 2,251 Palestinians including 551 children, per UN figures.

While Israeli reports in January claimed it was in talks to re-establish ties with the Maldives. However, Maldivian Foreign Ministry Communications Director Miuvan Mohamed denied the reports, renewing his country’s refusal to establish ties with the occupying state.

“We cannot engage in friendly relations with a country that does not follow international laws. We don’t believe Israel follows international laws. Therefore, we cannot establish relations with Israel. We cannot establish any form of relations,” Shahid told the Sun in 2020.

Settlement expansion

Meanwhile, Palestine’s Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday that Israel has announced plans to build 30,000 new illegal settlement housing units on Palestinian land in Bethlehem and Ramallah.

On Wednesday, dozens of Israeli settlers set up a number of tents on Palestinian lands in the east of Hebron, per reports by Palestine’s news agency (WAFA).

The European Union Representative to the West Bank and Gaza Strip warned on Thursday that there is a higher rate of settlement units’ advancements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“Adding to the exponentially high figures in 2021 were particularly the advancement of settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem, which more than doubled compared to the previous year, from 6,288 housing units to 14,894,” said the report.

There are more than 150 Israeli settlements in Palestine, over 128 outposts, and over 750,000 settlers living in stolen houses.

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