The US “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity”, its envoy to the United Nations Susan Rice told Monday a Security Council “Open Debate on the Middle East.”
She insisted that the US remain ‘fully committed to helping the parties reach peace through a negotiated two-state solution” and similarly slammed the Palestinian Authority’s recent appeal for UN non-member observer status at last month’s General Assembly. The route to peace must result from “direct negotiations without preconditions between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” she said.
Any form of unilateral action to establish Palestinian statehood, Rice stressed “would only jeopardise the peace process and complicate efforts to return the parties to direct negotiations”. “Any efforts to use international fora to prejudge final status issues...(would not) foster the trust essential to make progress towards a two-state solution”.
Whilst urging Israel to “deter, confront, and prosecute anti-Palestinian violence and extremist hate crimes”, she equally criticised Palestinian “incitement”, calling for the “onslaught of rockets fired by terrorists in Gaza (to) cease immediately”.
Despite condemning Israeli settlement building, she reiterated the American government’s policy that whilst it furthermore opposes efforts to legalise existing outposts, “the fate of existing settlements must be dealt with by the parties along with other permanent-status issues”.
The White House has previously cited the same policy regarding Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital – a classification not accepted by the majority of the international community.
She further heralded Israel’s support in “providing financial resources to meet the basic needs of the Palestinian people”, in light of the severe financial collapse of the PA.
Paraphrasing US President Barack Obama’s address to last month’s general assembly in New York, she added: “The road is hard, but the destination is clear: a secure Jewish State of Israel and an independent, prosperous Palestine.”
Also addressing the Council’s Middle East debate was Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor, who called on delegates to defend the founding principles of the United Nations by supporting “democratic institutions and aspirations, to promote negotiation as the road to resolving conflict and to ensure that all in or region abide by the agreements they have signed”.
Seizing on his US counterpart’s criticisms of unilateral appeals, Prosor added: “Peace must be negotiated. It cannot be imposed from the outside. There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes. And no instant solutions. He accused the Palestinian administration of “pursuing the path of unilateralism at the UN” in preference to entering into direct negotiations with Israel. “This is no road to real statehood. It is a march of folly,” he said.
“Symbolic declarations will change nothing on the ground. They will only raise expectations that cannot be met. This is a recipe for instability and, potentially, violence, » he added, cautioning that passing such a resolution would not “be planting the seeds of peace, but fanning the flames of conflict”.
Extrapolating on the divisions between the different factions – with the PA presiding over the West Bank at odds with the Hamas leadership in Gaza, he said “the Palestinians are a long, long way from meeting the basic criteria for statehood”.
“Mutual recognition is the key to securing lasting peace,” he continued, insisting that “today the Palestinian leadership is calling for an independent Palestinian state, but wants millions of its people to flood the Jewish state. This would mean the destruction of Israel. No one who believes in peace could ever accept it.”
Summing up Israel’s position, he concluded:“Your choices are very clear. You can recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, or allow the Palestinian leadership to deny our history without any consequence. You can choose to support direct talks at the negotiating table or to undermine them with unilateral resolutions at the UN... Today I say to the leaders of our region, to the members of this Council, and to each and every member of the UN: these choices are yours. The fate of the Middle East hangs in the balance. The time to act is now."