UN Security Council powers on Tuesday launched a strong condemnation of Israel's increased construction in the West Bank and growing attacks by settlers on Palestinians.
European Union members of the 15-nation body demanded strong action by the Israeli government to halt the attacks and said the settlements "send a devastating message" about Israel's intentions.
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India, Brazil and South Africa launched their own condemnation after a Security Council meeting on Israeli-Palestinian developments. Russia's UN envoy questioned Israel's commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict.
Britain, France, Germany and Portugal – EU representatives on the council – said in a statement that they were "dismayed by these wholly negative developments."
Deliberately provocative. 'Price tag'' (Photo: Eli Elgarat)
They said Israel's move to accelerate the construction of settlements in the West Bank "send a devastating message. We call on the Israeli government to reverse these steps.
"The viability of the Palestinian state that we want to see and the two-state solution that is essential for Israel's long-term security are threatened by the systematic and deliberate expansion of settlements," added the statement read after the meeting by Britain's UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant.
"We condemn the disturbing escalation of violence by settlers including the burning of the Nebi Akasha mosque in west Jerusalem and the Burqa mosque in the West Bank. It is clear that these deliberately provocative attacks on places of worship were designed to aggravate tensions."
The Europeans welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's vow to clamp down on extremists and called "on the Israeli government to fulfill its commitment to bring the perpetrators to justice and to put an end to impunity."
However, the 14 frustrated members of the UN Security Council pointed a finger at the United States for blocking any condemnation of Israel's settlement construction.
While the United States was not mentioned by name, their anger was clearly directed at Washington which vetoed a resolution in February backed by the 14 other council members that would have demanded an immediate halt to all settlement building.
Following the statement, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor slammed the Security Council, saying that while "innocent people are being slathered in Syria, terrorists roams freely in Gaza, UN personnel are attacked in Lebanon and Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, the Security Council keeps silent."
Yitzhak Benhorin, in Washington, contributed to this report
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