As Palestinian Authority were studying how to file complaints against Israel with international courts in a bid to stop illegal settlements construction in West Bank and east Jerusalem, the UN warned - disrupting the process of negotiation between two sides “should be avoided” toward the path of two state solution. “Nothing should be done that undermines the process that is on the way. That is a very delicate process, a long awaited process – to try to bring about two states solution. You have a Palestinians and the Israelis meeting, and therefore anything that disrupts the process of negotiation between two sides should be avoided,” a chief UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told AA on Thursday. Nesirky was responding to a question raised by AA correspondent in New York, whether the UN Secretary General views the continuation of the Israeli settlements building -- as an obstacle to the renewal of the peace negotiation – pushed by Washington who also condemned illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. “Because of the negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis that are secret and on going, the UN Secretary General used this ‘moderate’ language saying he ‘deplores” instead of the stronger word ‘condemning’,” Abdelkader Abadi, former director of the UN Security Council Department and author who writes on UN issues told AA. He added, – Mr. Ban Ki-moon “did not like to create the feeling of animosity toward the negotiations that are current.”
- Moderate language for now
Mr. Abadi explained “this moderate language” is being used by UN Secretary General, mainly because of this purpose. “Although it is difficult to agree with the UN spokesperson on that,” he added.
“It is my feeling that the UN is absolutely lowering its tone of reaction because of these negotiations,” Dr. Abadi told AA.
But, on Wednesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced new construction in east Jerusalem — just hours after it freed a group of 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal to set peace talks in motion.
Immediately after the settlements were announced - the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon – deplored the decisions of further Israeli plans to build homes on Palestinian land.
“Settlement activity is contrary to international law and constitutes an obstacle to peace. Any measures that prejudge final status issues will not be recognized by the international community,” Ban reminded in a written statement.
But, UN also said the Secretary General understands that Israel “took a difficult step in continuing to release Palestinian pre-Oslo prisoners in the face of deep domestic opposition and appreciates this gesture.”
- When politics can not then be the law
In response to the latest Israeli move on the illegitimate settlements front, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry warned they could sue Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for violating international law. That would be, as the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Maliki put it -- in order to “preserve peace and the negotiations with Israel.”
At the same time, experts remind that the Palestinian issue is as old as the United Nations, and that the critics of the UN in this regard are right to bring this issue often and precisely - highlighting all the important historical facts.
In March 1979, UN Security Council adopted the resolution 446 on the issue of Israeli settlements. The resolution, now 34 years old – at the time determined, "that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."
“The US, the Israelis, the Palestinians – probably on the encouragement of the United States – all the parties are to remain silent in the process,” Abdelkader Abadi told AA. He stressed -- the negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians will go on but “without publicity.”
Asked whether the UN Secretary General should show more of the leadership role in the Middle East peace process Abadi said, Mr. Ban Ki-moon will “stay behind to encourage the parties as a member of the Quartet.”
- UN will go in line with Quartet
As it was explained earlier at the UN in New York -- the Secretary General expects “parties to take every possible step to promote conditions conducive to the success of the negotiating process and to refrain from actions that undermine trust,” in keeping with the statement by the Quartet on September 27th.
Quartet is consisted by UN, EU, US and Russia. Following the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000, the Quartet was established in Madrid in 2002, in order to accelerate finding of a lasting solution to the Palestinian question.
Members of the Quartet — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State John Kerry, EU Foreign and Security head Lady Catherine Ashton — met in New York on September 27th to discuss the Palestinian issues. They were joined by Quartet representative Tony Blair and by Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israeli chief negotiator, justice minister Tzipi Livni.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is in charge of the Quartet’s Economic Initiative to the Palestinian economy.
- Nine months time frame and humanitarian issues
Back in September, the Quartet expressed “effective support to the efforts of the parties and their shared commitment to reach a permanent status agreement within the agreed goal of nine months.”
At the same meeting - the Quartet reviewed the situation in Gaza addressing the humanitarian situation in the efforts to support the Palestinian economy and its sustainability. Although the importance of the humanitarian obligations towards the Palestinians was stressed as urgent, it seems that little has moved very far in this area.
In fact, this week, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in the Palestine Richard Falk described the situation in Gaza as unbearable and “on the brink of catastrophe.” Mr. Falk warned that when it comes on water supply and electricity shortages – "Gaza may become unsustainable until 2020, but 2016 is even more realistic.” He also condemned in strongest possible way the continuation of Israeli illegal settlements – hinting Palestinians should seek the justice at the ICJ – the UN court in Hague, especially if the current negotiations fail.