United Nations: Voicing deep concern over the deteriorating Middle East situation, India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA), a group of emerging powers, has asked Israel to stop the "illegal" settlement activities in occupied territories and condemned violent attacks on Palestinians. (Agencies)
After hearing a UN Security Council briefing on the situation in the Middle East by Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, IBSA said Israel's continued settlement activities were a major roadblock to peace negotiations with Palestinians.
"We are deeply disturbed by the deterioration of situation on the ground and the escalation of violence," Brazil's UN Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, accompanied by Indian deputy Permanent Representative Manjeev Singh Puri, told reporters here.
She said the IBSA countries believe that continued settlement activities by Israel are "not only illegal under international law but also a major obstacle to peace."
Israel has to stop settlement activities, not as a "concession" in the course of the negotiations but rather as an obligation under various UN Security Council resolutions and international law.
IBSA also condemned the increasing violence by settlers against Palestinians living in adjacent areas.
Demanding action against those indulging in such violence, Viotti said evictions and demolition of Palestinians' homes are equally disturbing.
It is also a matter of concern that Israel is yet to submit its proposals on security and border to the quartet of US, UN, Russia and EU envoys while the Palestinian side has already submitted the proposals, she said.
"The IBSA countries believe the UNSC has an essential irreplaceable role to play in the peace process mainly by condemning violence, calling for a complete halt to settlement activities and calling for the implementation of all its resolutions," Viotti said.
Britain, France, Germany and Portugal also said in a joint statement that they were "dismayed by these wholly negative developments" and called on the Israeli government to stop attacks on mosques and Palestinians by extremist settlers.
"The viability of the Palestinian state that we want to see and the two-state solution that is essential for Israel's long-term security are threatened by the systematic and deliberate expansion of settlements," the statement read by Britain's UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said.
The EU powers condemned the escalation of violence by settlers, including the burning of the Nebi Akasha mosque in west Jerusalem and the Burqa mosque in the West Bank, terming the attacks as "deliberately provocative" and designed to "aggravate tensions."
Fernandez-Taranco told the UN Security Council that the realisation of a two-State solution for Israelis and Palestinians has not advanced, with violent incidents erupting at a worrying rate over the past month.
"As the year draws to a close, the situation on the ground is deteriorating and the path towards peace remains dangerously uncertain," he said.
"We must not allow these negative dynamics to prevail – too much is at stake. Our challenge remains to assist the parties to overcome them," he said, citing the need to de-escalate the situation, return to direct talks with serious proposals on borders and security, and to stop provocations.
Direct talks stalled in late September last year after Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.
That decision prompted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which had only resumed a few weeks earlier after a two-year hiatus.
The past month witnessed a series of developments that are cause for "continued serious concern," Fernandez-Tarancohe said, pointing to the announcement of several new settlement constructions, the demolition of 57 Palestinian structures in the West Bank, an increase in settler violence and over 300 Israeli military operations in the West Bank.
United Nations: Voicing deep concern over the deteriorating Middle East situation, India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA), a group of emerging powers, has asked Israel to stop the "illegal" settlement activities in occupied territories and condemned violent attacks on Palestinians.