UNTED NATIONS, October 24 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia believes that the construction of new settlement by Israel on the occupied Palestinian territories is “one of the major obstacles” to a two-state solution that undermines international efforts to resume the dialogue and destroys existing hopes, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said.
“Today, as never before, the sides should take steps towards each other, not unilateral steps that change the situation on the ground and anticipate the final parameters of the settlement,” he said at a Security Council meeting on the Middle East on Monday, October 24.
By building new settlement, Israel “violates the norms and principles of international law and ignores the opinion of the Quartet… especially disturbing is the fact that such decisions are made at an extremely crucial time for the future peace process,” the diplomat said.
“Israel should revise its construction plans in East Jerusalem and stop demolishing Palestinian settlements,” Churkin said.
Moscow is worried by the Israeli government’s new settlement plans in the southern part of East Jerusalem, the Foreign Ministry said earlier.
According to media reports, Israel plans to commence a new settlement project (2,610 houses in the first stage with a subsequent increase to 4,200) in the southern part of East Jerusalem in the area of the existing Jewish village of Givat HaMatos.
“The implementation by the Israeli authorities of such plans just like the intention to legalise numerous settlement outposts built on the occupied Palestinian territories is completely at variance with the obligations of the Israeli side assumed under the ‘road map’,” the ministry said.
“We are particularly worried by the fact that such steps can have an extremely negative impact on the international efforts, including those taken by the Middle East Quartet, to re-launch Palestinian-Israeli talks on the well-known international legal basis in accordance with the statement made after the Quartet’s meeting in New York on September 23, 2011,” the ministry said.
“We urge the Israeli government to give up its settlement activities on the occupied territories and refrain from any steps that can predetermine the status of Jerusalem and the borders of the future Palestinian state that should be determined in the course of negotiations between the partiers,” the ministry said.
According to Russian permanent representative to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin, “The two sides should refrain from unilateral steps anticipating the results of settlement, comply with international obligations, show political will and readiness for confidence-building measures and sustainable dialogue that would facilitate effective resolution of all issues related to the final status.”
He noted that Israel should suspend its settlement activities and comply with the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and decisions of the Quartet of international mediators.
He stressed the need to “ensure Israel's legitimate security interests and put an end to missile attacks on Israeli territory.”
In addition, Churkin called for “restoring the Palestinian unity on the basis of the Palestine Liberation Organisation” and confirmed that Russia continued active efforts to facilitate these efforts by supporting mediating efforts, primarily those of Egypt.
In his opinion, when facilitating progress in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement it is necessary to lean on the generally recognised international legal framework, including Security Council resolutions, the Quartet's decisions and the Arab peace initiative.
Russia has been consistently supporting the right of the Palestinians to create their own independent, territorially integral and viable state with the capital in East Jerusalem. This will benefit all - Palestinians, Israelis and the whole of the Middle East, he said.
“Speaking at a joint press conference with Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jericho, President Dmitry Medvedev confirmed that the Russian initiative to call an international conference on the Middle East in Moscow remained on the table”, Churkin said.
“The task is not just to meet but to make considerable progress in achieving a comprehensive Middle East settlement. If the talks are pushed forward, including during the Quartet's consultations, prospects for the Moscow conference will become clearer,” he added.
Russia is actively involved in the work of the Middle East Quartet to promote Middle East settlement and calls for better coordination of international efforts in this respect.