A senior United Nations official warned on Tuesday that continued Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank is posing as a significant barrier in peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
U.N. political chief Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council, according to the Associated Press, that while the two sides “have gone some way toward narrowing their differences,” the chances of achieving a two-state solution to the conflict may be “irreparably damaged” if settlement activity continues:
Feltman cited “a significant setback” following a series of Israeli announcements of settlement plans in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, especially the Nov. 13 announcement of 24,000 new units, including in the sensitive E-1 area. [...]
“We hope that these plans are suspended,” Feltman said, adding that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wants “a full stop” because settlements violate international law and are an obstacle to peace.
In protest at the settlement expansion announcements, Feltman said Palestinian negotiators have submitted their resignations, which are now under consideration by President Mahmoud Abbas.
He said Abbas has made it clear that “this does not constitute a Palestinian departure from (peace) talks.”
Feltman’s warning comes one day after French President Francois Hollande urged the Israeli’s to end settlement building, saying it “compromises the two-state solution.”