Israel flouting U.N. Security Council settlement demand: U.N. envoy

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Israel is flouting a United Nations Security Council demand to halt settlement building on occupied Palestinian land, while both parties are ignoring a call to stop provocation, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, a senior U.N. envoy said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO - Nickolay Mladenov, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, briefs the U.N. Security Council during a council meeting on the situation in the Middle East at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar

U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov made the assessment in his second quarterly report to the 15-member council on the implementation of a Dec. 23 resolution adopted with 14 votes in favor and a U.S. abstention. Then U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Israel had urged Washington to wield its veto.

“The policy of continued illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territory contravenes resolution 2334,” Mladenov said.

“The large number of settlement-related activities documented during this period undermine the chances for the establishment of a viable, continuous Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution,” he said.

Israel for decades has pursued a policy of constructing Jewish settlements on territory captured by Israel in the 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.

The December resolution calls on both parties to refrain from acts of provocation, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, and to condemn all acts of terrorism. “Regrettably, such calls continued to go unanswered,” Mladenov said.

Mladenov again warned the council that Gaza, controlled by the Islamist Hamas movement, was a “tinderbox.”

“Two million Palestinians in Gaza can no longer be held hostage by divisions,” he said. “For a decade they have lived under the control of Hamas. They have had to deal with crippling Israeli closures, Palestinian divisions and have lived through three devastating conflicts.”

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has accused the Security Council of “bashing Israel,” called on the body to address the threat of Hamas.

“Every ounce of what we do should be against Hamas. They are a dangerous actor who has no care for the Palestinians, no care for the Israelis, and they are determined to destroy everything in their path,” Haley 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 December 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 on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Leslie Adler