Israel has ignored a United Nations Security Council resolution asking it to halt settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territory, Nickolay Mladenov, the world body’s Middle East envoy, said Friday.
Although the Security Council resolution passed December 23 demanded that Israel immediately cease all settlement activities, “no such steps have been taken,” Mladenov said.
“The January spike in illegal settlement announcements by Israel is deeply concerning,” the envoy said in his first report to the 15-member body since the resolution was adopted.
In January, Israel made five announcements on settlement building that together totaled more than 6,000 homes in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem.
In early February, Israel declared its intention to build what would anti-settlement group Peace Now says would be the first new settlement by an Israeli government since 1992.
Mladenov also expressed concern about the Israeli parliament’s approval of a new settlement law on February 6 that retroactively legalizes dozens of Jewish outposts and thousands of settler homes built on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
Settlements in both the West Bank and east Jerusalem are viewed as illegal under international law and major stumbling blocks to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians want for their own state.
In his report, Mladenov said an increase in rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel was a “worrying development” and described it as regrettable that Palestinian Authority officials had not condemned attacks against Israelis.
The Middle East envoy’s report came before the 15-nation Security Council held a closed-door session to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Under the new administration, the United States, has pledged to back Israel more than Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.
As president-elect, Trump in late December assailed Obama’s outgoing administration for abstaining in the December 23 council vote on a UN resolution reprimanding Israel over its settlement activity.
The newly installed Trump administration in late January signaled that Israel did not have a blank check from America on settlement building.
But Trump sowed confusion in mid-February by seeming to distance Washington from the two-state solution — the creation of a Palestinian state that coexists with Israel — that has been supported by the international community for years.