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Top Palestinian envoy calls Israeli's settlement expansion "incendiary, illegal"


09:35, December 14, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- A top Palestinian official on Tuesday said Israel's approval of new settlement activities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are "incendiary and illegal actions" and called on the UN Security Council to "redress this grave matter."

Riyad Mansour, the permanent observer of Palestine to the UN, made the appeal in his letter dated Dec. 12 to UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon. The letter was made public on Tuesday. The letter was also copied to Vitaly Churkin, the Russian UN ambassador who holds the rotating UN Security Council presidency for December and Nasser A. Al-Nasser, president of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly.

"We reiterate that Israel's illegal settlement activities, especially in and around occupied East Jerusalem, are tearing apart the fabric of Palestinian society as they are destroying the contiguity, integrity and cohesion of the Palestinian territory and the actual viability of the two-state solution," Mansour said in the letter.

On Monday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they are reviewing a request by a West Bank settlement south of Jerusalem to construct a farm on municipal lands, while the Ministry of Defense last week okayed a tender to construct new homes in another part of the settlement.

Mansour called the expansion "such incendiary and illegal actions by Israel" which are "totally contradictory" to the goal of the two-State solution based on pre-1967 borders.

In the letter, Mansour said it was "incumbent" on the international community, particularly the Security Council "to act forth with to redress this grave matter that is making the realization of a peaceful, just and viable solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict more elusive with each passing day."

He also pointed to the escalation of military assaults and human rights violations by Israel, which he said has caused the " rapid rise of tensions and instability on the ground."

On Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply concerned" over reports on the Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, calling on the government to "freeze all settlement activity."

The latest talks between Israel and Palestine stalled in September 2010 when Israel failed to renew a moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, prompting Palestine to withdraw from negotiations.

The new construction approvals came shortly before representatives of the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators, comprising the United States, Russia, UN and European Union, started efforts to revive negotiations.

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