Riyad Mansour, Palestine Ambassador to the United Nations
Riyad Mansour, Palestine Ambassador to the United Nations, speaks to the media during Security Council consultations in 2011. The Palestinian leadership on Tuesday called on the UN Security Council to visit the occupied territories to see the impact of Israel's settlement campaign. © Stan Honda - AFP/File
Riyad Mansour, Palestine Ambassador to the United Nations
AFP
Last updated: February 29, 2012

Palestinians call for UN Council visit to occupied territory

The Palestinian leadership on Tuesday called on the UN Security Council to visit the occupied territories to see the impact of Israel's settlement campaign.

The Palestinian UN envoy, Riyad Mansour, made the request as UN under secretary general for political affairs, B. Lynne Pascoe, told the Security Council that events in Gaza and the West Bank are "dangerous and ultimately unsustainable."

Mansour said he had sent a letter to the 15-nation body calling for the visit as soon as possible. The council is currently discussing future trips but diplomats said the demand was part of a Palestinian campaign to draw international attention back on the Middle East conflict.

Mansour said he had met ambassadors from several Security Council nations to discuss "the explosive situation in the occupied territory as a result of the provocations of Israel in intensifying the settlement campaign."

"It is an appropriate time for the Security Council to come and visit Palestine and for members of the Security Council to see with their own eyes the reality of the Palestinian people in the occupied territory," Mansour told reporters after a Security Council meeting on the Middle East.

The UN expressed concern at the council about new settlements and the destruction of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem. Pascoe also raised concerns about violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians and rocket fire from Gaza into Israel.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been deadlocked since September 2010. The Palestinians have refused to hold talks until Israel freezes settlement building, which has also been condemned by the United Nations and the major powers.

Exploratory contacts between the two sides were held in Amman in January but nothing has come from them.

Israel's UN ambassador Ron Prosor said he was "surprised" by the Palestinian request which he called an attempt to divert attention from the Syria uprising.

Russia proposed a trip to the Palestinian territories and Israel last year after the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning the settlement campaign. The United States opposed the trip.

A Palestinian campaign to secure greater international diplomatic recognition has in turn infuriated Israel and the United States, which has said it will veto any Security Council approval of full UN membership for the Palestinians.

The United States and Israel say that only direct talks can reach an agreement that will lead to an independent Palestine.

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