Russia calls on Israel to suspend settlement plans, resume peace talks
Russia on Wednesday called upon Israel to end its plans for settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory and to "show restraint and refrain from unilateral actions."
The statement came as Vitaly Churkin, the Russian permanent representative to the United Nations, was speaking to the press following a closed meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Israeli settlement activity on the occupied Palestinian land.
"Of special concern are the settlement activities of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem and the decision to suspend transfer to tax and duty revenues for the Palestinian National Authority," Churkin said.
"Not only does it impact negatively the Palestinian-Israeli relations, but also put in question the implementation of the formula of the two-state solution," he said.
The two-state solution, widely backed by the international community, means a secure Israel to live in peace with an independent State of Palestine.
Recently, Israel has approved several settlement plans for thousands of new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem captured by Israel in 1967, prompting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to charge Israel of crossing a red line.
"The situation can be diffused should Israel reconsider the settlement construction plans for E1 in East Jerusalem and resume financial transfers to the Palestinian National Authority," said Churkin.
Russia also called for resuming talks between Palestine and Israel, which have been further stalled since the UN General Assembly vote on Nov. 29 to upgrade Palestine's status to a non- member observer state.
Reiterating Russia's role in the peace process, Churkin said, " Russia will continue to actively facilitate both bilaterally and multilaterally, including through the Middle East Quartet, which is composed of the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States, for sustaining and lasting peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis."
Earlier on Wednesday, Jeffrey Feltman, the UN under-secretary- general for political affairs, told the 15-nation Security Council that the possibilities for the two-state solution are deteriorating and that 2013 "will be a decisive year in the peace process."
Although no formal resolution or statement was approved by the Security Council in the meeting, Russia, the European Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, China, India, Brazil and South Africa all spoke out against the Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.