The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process has deplored today’s forcible takeover by armed Israeli settlers of a building in Jerusalem’s Old City that housed nine Palestinian families, and called on the Government to take immediate action.
“I call on the Israeli authorities to remove the settlers from the property and restore the status quo ante,” Robert Serry said in a statement, describing the events as “unacceptable.”
The move follows the destruction by Israeli authorities yesterday of a number of Palestinian commercial structures on the outskirts of East Jerusalem.
“These provocative acts come at a critical time in the international community’s efforts to move the peace process forward,” the envoy stated.
He called on Israel to heed the call of the diplomatic Quartet – comprising the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States – to refrain from provocative actions in East Jerusalem, including house demolitions and evictions.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and senior UN officials have in recent months voiced concern about forced evictions, house demolitions and settlement activity, while urging Israel to honour its commitments under the Road Map, the internationally approved plan for a two-State solution to the Middle East conflict.
The need to continue Israel’s freeze on settlement activity, as well as the situation in Gaza, will be among the issues Mr. Ban intends to discuss with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Barak when the two meet in New York tomorrow.
The Secretary-General also made a number of calls to senior leaders in the region yesterday in his continuing efforts to encourage the parties to move forward in the peace process.
He spoke separately with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, underscoring his support for proceeding towards meaningful direct talks, according to his spokesperson.