Netanyahu Calls U.N. Envoy’s Criticism ‘Absurd’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday. (Reuters/Abir Sultan/Pool)
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday. (Reuters/Abir Sultan/Pool)

It is not Israel’s building policies, but the U.N.’s refusal to recognize its right to build, which is the real obstacle to peace, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday in response to criticism from the U.N. Mideast envoy.

In a briefing to the Security Council on Monday, the envoy, Nicolay Mladenov, said that expansion in Yehudah and Shomron and east Yerushalayim is among the biggest obstacles to peace with the Palestinians. He noted plans for over 1,000 new Jewish housing units and steps being taken to legalize Israeli outpost communities in the region.

“It is difficult to read in these actions a genuine intention to work toward a viable two-state solution,” Mladenov said. “This appears to reinforce a policy, carried out over decades, that has enabled over half a million Israelis to settle in territory that was occupied militarily in 1967.”

“The U.N. envoy to the Middle East’s remarks to the Security Council distort history and international law and push peace farther away,” Netanyahu said in a statement released on Tuesday.

“Jews have been in Yerushalayim, Yehudah and Shomron for thousands of years and their presence there is not an obstacle to peace. The obstacle to peace is the unending attempt to deny the Jewish People’s connection to parts of their historic land and the obdurate refusal to recognize that they are not foreigners there.

“The claim that Jewish construction in Yerushalayim is illegal is as absurd as the claim that American construction in Washington or French construction in Paris is illegal. The Palestinian demand that a future Palestinian state be ethnically cleansed of Jews is outrageous and the U.N. must condemn it instead of adopting it.”

Following Mladenov’s briefing, the Security Council decided to hold a meeting in October to address the issue.