Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nations slam UNESCO-linked Israel settlements
A Palestinian labourer stands at a construction site in a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim on Wednesday (Reuters photo by Baz Ratner)

WASHINGTON/RAMALLAH (Agencies) - Israel’s top ally Washington on Wednesday led international calls for the Israeli government to abandon its decision to speed up settlement building in occupied territory in retaliation for Palestinian admission to UNESCO, Agence France-Presse reported.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians said Israel’s tough responses to their bid to join the UN cultural organisation are unlikely to halt their quest for recognition as a state at the United Nations, Reuters reported.

“We are deeply disappointed by yesterday’s announcement about accelerated housing construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank,” said White House spokesperson Jay Carney.

“As we have said before, unilateral actions work against efforts to resume direction negotiations and they do not advance the goal of a reasonable and necessary agreement between the parties,” he said.

“So any action, as we have said all along, that either side takes that makes it harder rather than easier for the two parties to come together in direct negotiations is something that we oppose,” Carney added, according to AFP.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply concerned” by Israel’s decision and “worried at the trajectory of developments” between Israel and the Palestinians and called on both to “refrain from provocations”, said his spokesperson Martin Nesirky.

“The secretary general calls on the government of Israel to freeze all settlement activity and to continue to transfer VAT and customs revenues that belong to the Palestinian Authority and are essential to enable it to function, in line with Israel’s obligations,” the spokesperson said.

A senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday that Israel was trying to undermine the Palestinian Authority (PA) through a decision on Tuesday to freeze transfers of PA funds after it won membership of the UN cultural agency, Reuters reported.

“It is very serious. Israel wants to strive to destroy the role of the Palestinian National Authority,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation...READ MORE

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