Israel ignores U.N. demand for end to settlement building: U.N.

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Israel has ignored a demand by the United Nations Security Council to halt settlement building and some Palestinian groups are continuing to incite violence against Jews, U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov told the 15-member body on Friday.

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It was Mladenov’s first report on the implementation a Dec. 23 resolution adopted by the council with 14 votes in favor and a U.S. abstention. Then President-elect Donald Trump and Israel had urged Washington to wield its veto.

“The resolution calls on Israel to take steps ‘to cease all settlements activities in the occupied Palestinian territory including east Jerusalem.’ No such steps have been taken during the reporting period,” Mladenov told the council.

Israel for decades has pursued a policy of constructing Jewish settlements on territory captured by Israel in a 1967 war with its Arab neighbors. Most countries view Israeli settlement activity as illegal and an obstacle to peace. Israel disagrees.

The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

“Many of the advancements that were made in the past three months will further sever the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state and accelerate the fragmentation of the West Bank,” said Mladenov of settlements, adding that they were “one of the main obstacles to peace.”

Mladenov also said an increase in rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel was a “worrying development” and described it as regrettable that Palestinian Authority officials had not condemned attacks against Israelis.

“The continued incitement to violence against Jews emanating from Hamas extremists and some Palestinian groups is unacceptable and undermines trust and the prospects for peace,” he said.

“Reactions by Hamas officials to terror attacks against Israelis have been particularly reprehensible and deserve condemnation,” Mladenov said.

The United States traditionally shields Israel, Washington’s long-time ally that receives more than $3 billion in annual U.S. military aid, from council action. The five council veto powers are the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China.

The resolution, put forward by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and Trump, was the first adopted by the council on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years.

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Michael Flynn, who at the time had been chosen by Trump to be his national security adviser, called the U.N. missions of Malaysia and Uruguay before the vote in a bid to stop council action, U.N. diplomats said.

Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement on Friday: “There can be no moral equivalency between the building of homes and murderous terrorism. The only impediment to peace is Palestinian violence and incitement.”

Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters: “Settlements need to be stopped, not only because they are illegal, but they are the main obstacle in the path of the two-state solution.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Lisa Shumaker