Denouncing the recent demolition of Jerusalem’s historic Shepherd Hotel to make way for a Jewish settlement, Pakistan Wednesday called on Israel to stop building new settlements in occupied territories as part of its expansionist policy.
“Settlement activity is a clear violation of international law and a major provocation,” Abdullah Hussain Haroon, the Pakistani ambassador to the UN, said in a speech to the Security Council.
The Pakistan envoy, speaking in a debate on the Middle East question, said he shared the assessment that the impasse in the peace process was due to an expansionist Israeli policy which manifested itself in the form of ongoing settlement activities.
“This month, age-old Shepherd Hotel in Jerusalem was demolished to build 20 new housing units,” Haroon pointed out. (The Shepherd Hotel was owned by Jerusalem Mufti Haji Amin al-Husseini until 1967, when Israel expropriated it under the Absentee Property Law. The Mufti was deported in 1937 during the British rule.)
“Elsewhere in the West Bank, alteration in the status of the centuries-old prayer places, mosques, churches and cemeteries of the Palestinian people is going unabated in the name of excavation and creating new housing space,” the Pakistan ambassador said. “Each block of these settlements constitutes a major road-block towards a final peaceful settlement. It complicates the peace process and vitiates atmosphere of talks.
“Israel must stop building new settlements or using settlement activity as a political tool in the peace process,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian people had taken important strides towards building State institutions in two years, establishing a solid edifice for statehood and removing the pretexts for the occupation. The goal of a Palestine State by August 2011 was well within grasp, he said, adding that letting it fall by the wayside would have the same serious consequences of other missed deadlines.
The Security Council should therefore fulfill its Charter responsibility to ensure that the opportunity was not lost by calling upon Israel unconditionally to cease all settlement activity and resume direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on all outstanding issues, he said.
“We share the collective objective of the international community for an independent, sovereign and viable State of Palestine — with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, living side-by-side and in peace with all its neigbours,” Haroon said in conclusion.