Senior UN official voices concern over tensions in East Jerusalem

08:23, July 14, 2010      

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Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said in a statement released on Tuesday that he will "continue to follow with concern" recent events in East Jerusalem, an area that has been claimed by both Israel and Palestine.

"The approval of new units in the settlement of Pisgat Zeev, in violation of Israel's Roadmap commitments, is wrong," Serry's statement said, referring to an announcement made on Monday that Israel will build 32 new housing units in an Israeli neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

The continued building of settlements by Israel in East Jerusalem violates the Roadmap For Peace framework set by the United Nations, the United States, Russia, and the European Union, a diplomatic group known as the Quartet, for bringing tensions in the Middle East to a close.

"I am also concerned at reports of house demolitions today," Serry said in his statement.

Several international news sources, including the United Nations News Service, have reported that Israel razed six buildings including at least three homes in Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Serry's UN office will also continue to monitor the fate of four members of the Palestinian Legislative Council who face expulsion from Jerusalem contingent on a court ruling that will be made by Israel in September.

Serry's statement encouraged progress by both parties toward peace discussions despite these emerging obstacles.

"At the current juncture, it is essential for all parties to respect international law, refrain from provocative actions, and take positive steps to build confidence and create an environment conducive to successful negotiations," he said.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. Israel, however, considers the entire city its capital since the 1967 war, and Israeli officials have said they plan to continue construction in all parts of Jerusalem.

The status of Jerusalem remains one of the most intractable issues at the heart of the decade-long peace talks, which went off and on.

Source: Xinhua


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