Palestinians push for UN Security Council resolution on settlements

The Palestinians were in "extensive consultations" to pass a resolution at the UN Security Council on Israel's continued settlement activity, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said at the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

Abbas warned world leaders that Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank was destroying the possibility of achieving a two-state solution to end the conflict in the Middle East.

"The settlements are illegal in every aspect and any manifestation," Abbas said. "We will therefore continue to exert all efforts for the adoption of a Security Council resolution on the settlements and the terrorism of the settlers."

He said consultations were ongoing with Arab and other friendly countries.

"We hope that no one will cast a veto against this resolution," Abbas said.

He also expressed hope that France will succeed in its international efforts to convene a peace conference before the end of 2016, noting that Israel was trying to "evade" such a conference.

"It remains our hope that such a conference will lead to the establishment of a mechanism and a timeframe for an end to the occupation," Abbas said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who addressed the world body just an hour after Abbas, said his country would never allow the UN to interfere with its policies.

"Given its history of hostility towards Israel, does anyone really believe that Israel will let the UN determine our security and our vital national interests?" Netanyahu said.

"We will not allow the UN to dictate terms to Israel. The road to peace runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not through New York."

Netanyahu acknowledged that the issue of settlements was "a real one" that Israel was ready to resolve during final status negotiations. He added, however, that the conflict was not really over settlements or establishing a Palestinian state but the existence of a Jewish state.

"Israel is ready, I am ready, to negotiate all final status issues," he said. "But one thing I will never negotiate: our right to the one and only Jewish state."

The Israeli leader added that he was ready to start negotiations "today."

"Wouldn't it better, if instead of speaking past each other, we were speaking to one other?" he said. "President Abbas, instead of railing against Israel at the United Nations in New York, I invite you to speak to the Israeli people at the Knesset in Jerusalem."

Last update: Thu, 22/09/2016 - 22:29
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