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Malaysia helms Arria-formula meeting on illegal Israeli settlements

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 2016 : Malaysia yesterday organised an Arria-formula meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York focusing on illegal Israeli settlements.

The meeting was supported by like-minded Council members, namely Egypt, Angola, Senegal and Venezuela, which joined in to co-chair the meeting with Malaysia, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

In Malaysia’s national statement, it reiterated the urgent need for the Security Council to use the various tools at its disposal and take urgent action to halt Israeli settlement activities which were illegal under international law
and threatened the prospect of a two-state solution.

In his intervention, Malaysia’s Permanenent Representative to the UN Datuk Ramlan Ibrahim said Israel’s settlement activities had been condemned for many decades, without any concrete action to stop them.

“In the meantime, settlements keep growing, settlers’ violence keeps increasing and conditions for a two-state solution keep eroding. Anger and frustration at the long-standing double standard treatment of Palestinians continue to fuel radicalisation in the region and beyond,” he said.

As far as Israel’s actions on the issue of settlements were concerned, he said, the problem was not the lack of incentives, but the lack of sanctions.

Ramlan pointed out that just last month, Israel received an unprecedented military assistance, totalling US$38 billion, for a 10-year period.

“I can’t imagine any greater incentive for Israel’s security. And yet, merely weeks after the signing of the largest ever military assistance deal, Israel brazenly announced that it would build even more new settlement housing
units,” he said.

The Malaysian diplomat said clearly there was a need to stop rewarding illegal behaviours that threatened peace and security in that region and beyond.

The meeting heard first-hand information and engaged with experts and civil society representatives, including Hagai El-Ad from B’Tselem, an Israeli non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Tel Aviv which champions human
rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

It was also shown videos depicting settlers’ violence against Palestinian civilians, demolition of Palestinian homes to make way for illegal Israeli settlements, as well as segregation policy in Hebron.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the meeting was well received with over 300 participants from UN member states, NGOs and others.

An Arria-formula meeting is an informal and confidential gathering of the UNSC whereby Security Council members have procedural flexibility to have a frank and private exchange of views with non-UN briefers, among others.

It was Malaysia’s third initiative on Palestine since the former became a non-permanent member of the UNSC in January 2015 – the first was focused on Gaza in July 2015, and the second on the protection of Palestinian civilians in May 2016.

Prior to Malaysia’s initiatives, over 18 years have passed without any Arria-formula meeting on Palestine.

Malaysia’s term as a non-permanent member of UNSC is until end of 2016. – Bernama

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News sourced from Bernama, Reuters, AFP and other accredited news agencies, including credible blogsites and news portals.