Israel should end its settlement activities in the West Bank if it is serious about a two-state solution in the Middle East, world powers said in a report published yesterday, issuing recommendations for both sides in the conflict.
The Middle East Quartet - the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia - issued the report amid renewed international efforts to revive Middle East peace talks.
The last attempt, led by the US, collapsed in April 2014.
“We need to shake life back into the peace process, and do it as a matter of urgency,” said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, adding that with violence on the rise, Israelis and Palestinians are losing hope.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have both expressed support for a two-state solution,
but the report warns that “continuing on the current course will make this prospect increasingly remote”.
Violence has flared up since 2014, and Israel has faced mounting criticism over its settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Ongoing settlement-building, the earmarking of land for Israeli use and the denial of Palestinian development is “steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution”, the quartet says in the report.
They note that around 70% of Area C, a part of the West Bank under Israeli military and civilian control, “has been unilaterally taken for exclusive Israeli use”.
“This raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions, which are compounded by the statements of some Israeli ministers that there should never be a Palestinian state,” the quartet adds.
However, Israel quickly rejected the call to end settlement activity on the West Bank, according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office.
The four entities also recommend that the Palestinian authorities take steps to “cease incitement to violence and strengthen ongoing efforts to combat terrorism.”
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