UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A U.N. official warned in an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday that Israel's plans for further settlements in east Jerusalem threaten the viability of the future Palestinian state. Close ally the United States also warned against Israel's plans.
The council was meeting at the request of member Jordan on behalf of the Palestinians, who want all such settlement activities to end.
Tensions have been revived between Arabs and Jews over Israel's plans to build about 1,000 housing units in east Jerusalem, the part of the city the Palestinians demand for their future state.
U.N. political chief Jeffrey Feltman said the settlements, if pursued, would raise "grave doubts" about Israel's plans for a durable peace solution with the Palestinians. He warned that the latest developments move the situation "ever closer to a one-state reality."
Israel's ambassador, Ron Prosor, said his country is doing everything possible to minimize tensions. The Palestinian ambassador, Riyad Mansour, said Israel isn't listening and called the situation "explosive."
Feltman suggested more Security Council action on the issue, and he pushed both sides to commit to meaningful negotiations. The latest push for talks, led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, failed.
The meeting gave council members a chance to vent about the complicated tensions and point out that such settlements are a breach of international law, but little action was expected to emerge from the meeting. The U.S. is a permanent council member with the power to veto any resolutions that target Israel.
The U.S. told the council that Israel's latest settlements plans are "deeply concerning," saying any settlement activity "will already escalate tensions at a time they are already tense enough."
The U.S. also urged both sides to refrain from "provocative actions."
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the new settlement plans, saying there was a wide consensus in Israel to continue building throughout the east Jerusalem, just as every Israeli government has done since Israel captured the city in 1967.
East Jerusalem is home to the city's most sensitive Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites. Israel says the whole city will forever be its capital, citing historical, religious and security reasons.
"Jerusalem had a Jewish character long before most cities in the world had any character," Prosor told the council.
The international community, including the United States, does not recognize Israel's annexation of the eastern sector of Jerusalem.
Palestinian protesters have been clashing regularly with Israeli security forces in east Jerusalem for months, and violence has particularly risen in recent days at a key Jerusalem holy site, the Dome of the Rock, which is revered by both Jews and Muslims.
The Palestinians have been trying to line up support in the Security Council for a resolution that would set November 2016 as the deadline for Israeli troops to withdraw from all Palestinian territories. But diplomats warn that finding agreement on what they call a balanced resolution is quite difficult.
Asked by reporters about Feltman's call for Security Council action, Prosor told reporters: "Any attempt to force things from the outside will never succeed."