By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The situation in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is increasingly tenuous amid mounting settlement expansion, violence, Palestinian evictions and demolitions of Palestinian-owned properties, the UN warned on Thursday.
"I'm extremely concerned that current dynamics, particularly in the occupied West Bank, could spiral out of control at any time," Tor Wennesland, the UN's special coordinator for Israeli-Palestinian peace, told the Security Council.
"Regrettably, recent weeks have been filled with the familiar pattern of daily violence, including armed clashes, settlement expansion, evictions, demolitions and seizures of Palestinian structures, as well as a deadly terrorist attack in Israel," he said.
Wennesland said Israeli officials have "demolished, seized or forced owners to demolish" 54 Palestinian-owned structures, displacing 98 Palestinians, including 50 children over the past month.
The actions were taken under the pretext that the Palestinians did not have Israeli-issued building permits, "which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain," said Wennesland.
Turning to settlements, the UN envoy said Israel advanced plans for 4,000 new housing units in the West Bank, and Israel's top court rejected petitions against the construction of dozens of housing units in Hebron, and the building of a cable car between West Jerusalem and the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem.
"I reiterate that all settlements are illegal under international law and remain a substantial obstacle," he said. "I urge Israeli authorities to cease advancement of all settlement activity and refrain from actions that fuel instability and undermine the prospects for establishing a viable, contiguous Palestinian State."
Wennesland said 10 Palestinians, including a woman and three children have been killed by Israeli forces over the past month while 346 Palestinians, including 24 children, were injured. Israeli settlers and other civilians carried out 57 attacks against Palestinians in which one Palestinian child was killed.
During the same time period, four Israeli civilians and one member of the security services were killed, he said, further noting that 22 civilians and 20 Israeli security forces were injured during Palestinian attacks.