Russia calls new Israeli settlement construction 'major concern'
Israeli authorities made the announcement for new settlements just days after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave a passionate bid in the UN General Assembly for Palestine to be recognized as full-fledged member state of the international body.
A local Israeli committee on Tuesday approved construction of 1,100 homes in contested East Jerusalem, the planned site of a future Palestinian state, in a move that triggered condemnation from around the world.
"Moscow takes this report with a major concern,” a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry told Itar-Tass. “We are particularly concerned that the decisions on such a sensitive issue are being taken as the world community…is taking every effort to resume Palestinian-Israeli direct talks."
The talks are coordinated by the so-called Quartet on the Middle East, which is comprised of Russia the US, EU and United Nations. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is the Quartet’s current special envoy.
Since first convening on May 2, 2002, the Quartet has met on 48 separate occasions, but has little to show in terms of a peace deal.
Meanwhile, Israel continues to act unilaterally in the region, defying UN resolutions that declare the illegality of constructing settlements on territory that Israel conquered from the Palestinians in the 1967 Six Day War.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 refers to the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security."
The first paragraph of the oft-quoted document says that “the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles: 1. Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict; 2. termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."
The foreign ministry stressed that the temptation for resorting to “unilateral actions” must be avoided and Israel will halt their construction plans.
"Today as never before the sides need steps to meet each other halfway, rather than unilateral actions seeking the construction of new settlements in the location,” the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. “We hope that the housing construction plans will be altered in East Jerusalem.”