THE PLIGHT of Palestine has dropped out of the headlines as the world’s media is focussed on Syria and the Far East but Israeli incursions into the occupied West bank are accelerating, prompting an appeal from Palestine to the United Nations Security Council.
The Palestinians say Israel is sabotaging prospects for a two-state solution by “deliberately waging illegal and destructive” settlement action.
Their protest letter to the UN Security Council comes just ahead of a Middle East Quartet meeting in Washington.
This Quartet of mediators comprises the United States, the UN, the European Union and Russia and they are meeting to try to revive the long-stalled peace process.
The delays always work in Israel’s favour, giving it more time to seize and settle more Palestinian land.
Palestinian UN observer Riyad Mansour wrote: “Israel continues its systematic destruction of the two-state solution with its continuing illegal settlement campaign.”
He accused the settlement campaign of “being deliberately waged in an attempt to seize more Palestinian land and entrench… control over the Palestinian territory.”
Palestinians are calling on the international community and especially to the Security Council “to condemn Israel’s illegal settlement activities” and take urgent measures to pressure Israel to immediately halt new construction.
Israeli-Palestinian talks remain frozen over Palestinian demands that Israel stop building on lands they claim. They agree to negotiate borders based on the lands Israel held before capturing the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in 1967. Israel rejects these conditions and defies international pressure to freeze settlement construction.
The US always defends Israel from UN sanctions, allowing it to act with impunity against international law.
The Quartet’s top representatives — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — discussed the latest Middle East situation at Blair House in Washington on Wednesday morning on the sidelines of a G8 conference.
The Quartet has called for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations with the goal of a peace agreement by the end of 2012.
Prior to the meeting on Wednesday, Lavrov expressed hope that the standstill in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations will be overcome, and called on the Quartet members to intensify their efforts.
“The Quartet should be wiser in the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli question,” the minister said. “It is most important to prevent the Arab Spring’s overshadowing of the Palestinian problem.
Hopefully, the upcoming ministerial meeting of the Quartet will find solutions, which will resume the negotiating process.”
“Overshadowing”, however, is exactly what the Arab Spring is doing to the Palestinian problem. While the world’s attention is directed elsewhere, Israelis have claimed more and more land for new settlements, Palestinians say.
Residents of the Palestinian village Nabi Salih, where the Tamimi tribe have lived for 400 years, spoke to Paula Slier, a journalist from Russia Today.
They told her that an Israeli settlement has sprung up next door to the village and is slowly starting to encroach on the village’s land. Today a third of what used to be Tamimi land is controlled by settlers.
“It’s very frustrating to see the settlement on land that is ours and which we can no longer access,” Bashir Tamimi, head of the village council, told RT.
“It’s part of a plan and I’m afraid that the day will come when they will knock on my door and say this house, it’s not yours, it’s ours.”
Another pressing issue for Palestinians is access to much-needed fresh water. A UN report says settlers have taken over dozens of natural water springs in the West Bank, limiting Palestinians’ access to some of them to as little as 10 hours a day.
Israel denies all allegations of blocking access to water, with the Israeli Regional Council insisting all it does is development, restoration and preservation of natural and heritage sites.