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UN envoy warns any Israeli annexations risk peace prospects

United Nations: Any attempt by Israel to annex part or all of the West Bank risks destroying prospects for peace with the Palestinians, the UN envoy trying to promote Middle East peace has warned.

Nickolay Mladenov yesterday told the UN Security Council that “divisive” calls for annexations in the 60 per cent of the West Bank exclusively controlled by Israel, known as Area C, have been made following the council’s approval of a resolution last month condemning Israel’s settlements.

Mladenov stressed that Israel and the Palestinians “must avoid any unilateral action that would prejudge a negotiated final status solution.”

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, said the resolution’s adoption “represents a turning point,” and Israel “must choose between occupation and peace.”

“The will of the council and international community as a whole to stand by the resolution and implement its provisions will be an indicator of whether the two-state solution can be saved or not and whether peace will be possible or not,” he said.

The monthly Security Council meeting on the Middle East was the first since the United States, in a stunning rupture with past practice, abstained and allowed the UN’s most powerful body to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a “flagrant violation” of international law.

The resolution, supported by the 14 other council members, said settlements in lands the Palestinians want to include in their future state have “no legal validity.” It demanded a halt to settlement building for the sake of “salvaging the two-state solution.”

Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said the resolution has setback the pursuit of peace, and so have the messages from President Barack Obama’s administration and Sunday’s meeting in Paris where some 70 countries backed an independent Palestinian state and urged revived peace efforts.

Danon said all these actions have only “encouraged the Palestinians to continue down the dangerous path that they have chosen,” claiming “their endgame is not to create a state alongside Israel but rather to replace it completely.”

The Israeli envoy reiterated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem, Ramallah or even New York “to enter into a real dialogue.”

Danon said Israel is hopeful that relations with the United States will change when Donald Trump, who has taken steps that show he plans to side with Israel, becomes president on Friday.

With Trump in the White House, he said, Israel hopes to see the US “return to its policy of rejecting unfair and biased Security Council resolutions and promoting direct and genuine dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.