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Draft UN Security Council text slams Israel on settlements

By AFP - Feb 16,2023 - Last updated at Feb 16,2023

A photo taken from the Palestinian village of Aqraba shows the Israeli settlement outpost of Gevat Arnon, near Nablus city in the southern occupied West Bank, on Tuesday (AFP photo)

UNITED NATIONS — A draft resolution demanding Israel "immediately and completely cease" settlement activities in occupied territories was circulating among UN Security Council members, and seen by AFP Thursday, days before a meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The text comes as some Western governments express deep concerns with the Israeli government's decision to give retroactive permission to multiple settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank and to build new units.

The resolution, still in draft form, "reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law".

It also "condemns all attempts at annexation, including decisions and measures by Israel regarding settlements, including settlement outposts", and calls for their immediate reversal.

The text, seen by AFP, "reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard".

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian situation, but it remains unclear whether the draft will be presented for a vote, according to diplomats.

On Sunday, Israel's security Cabinet announced it would legalise nine settlements in the occupied West Bank, following a series of recent attacks on Israelis in East Jerusalem.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres was "deeply concerned" by the settlement authorisation announcement and warned that Israel's steps could "undermine prospects for a viable two-state solution," the secretary-general's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said this week.

In a letter Wednesday to the Security Council, Israel's UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan called on the international community "to condemn the latest terror attacks against Israeli civilians in the strongest and unequivocal terms", and accused the Palestinian Authority of having "encouraged and applauded" the "abhorrent crimes."

In December 2016, for the first time since 1979, the Security Council called on Israel to cease settlement activity in Palestinian territories, in a resolution enabled by Washington's decision not to use its veto power.

Israel's latest settlements move drew condemnation from the United States, which joined Britain, France, Germany and Italy in a statement saying they "strongly oppose these unilateral actions" and see them as an obstacle to peace.

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