Last updated: 17 January, 2012

UN council to hear briefing on Palestinian territories

The UN Security Council will on Wednesday hear a briefing on the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories which the United States had opposed, diplomats said.

The Palestinian envoy to the UN had asked for the briefing as part of efforts to keep the deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in the international spotlight.

Valerie Amos, the UN humanitarian coordinator, will give details on the impact of Israeli settlements at the UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday morning as part of discussions on the Middle East, diplomats said.

Morocco officially made the request for the briefing as the Arab representative on the 15-member council. The briefing would be “useful,” said Morocco’s UN ambassador Mohammed Loulichki.

“We are of the view that this is not of optimal timing or focus but obviously we respect Valerie Amos and her work… around the world and we will hear the briefing and we will respond to it in substance,” US ambassador Susan Rice told reporters.

Direct talks between the Palestinians and Israel have been frozen since September 2010 when Israel halted a moratorium on settlement building in the occupied territories.

Since then Israel has stepped up construction activity, drawing widespread criticism, including from the United States. The UN has also reported an increase in attacks by extremist settlers on Palestinians.

Highlighting its frustration at the moribund peace process, the Palestinians have applied for full membership of the UN and succeeded in winning membership of UNESCO.

The application for UN membership has hit deadlock at the UN Security Council where the United States has threatened to veto any recommendation in support of the Palestinian bid. The United States and Israel say that only direct Palestinian-Israeli talks can produce a definitive peace accord.