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  • An Israeli soldier gestures during a protest against Jewish settlements in Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Jericho, Nov. 17, 2016.

    An Israeli soldier gestures during a protest against Jewish settlements in Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Jericho, Nov. 17, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 November 2016

"The alternative is an open-ended occupation, a perpetual conflict," said the U.N. envoy, urging for action.

A U.N. envoy warned Wednesday that the situation in the Middle East was changing "dangerously" as Israel builds new Jewish settlements and Palestinians remain divided.

Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council that Israel's planned new settlements in east Jerusalem were part of "increasingly worrying" developments and urged Israel to halt the construction.

"The situation on the ground is changing steadily, dangerously, as proponents of Israeli settlement expansion feel emboldened, internal divisions among Palestinians flare up, and the prospect of a future Palestinian state comes under threat like never before," Mladenov said.

He spoke after Israel revived plans to build 500 new homes for Jewish settlers in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians hope to make the capital of their future independent state.

The United Nations maintains that settlements are illegal and has repeatedly called on Israel to halt them, but U.N. officials have reported a surge in construction over the past months.

Mladenov told the council that "inaction has a cost" and took a veiled swipe at Israel by arguing that those who oppose a Palestinian state "offer no viable alternative."

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