UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Palestinians demanded urgent action by the U.N. Security Council and the international community on Wednesday to halt Israel's "illegal settlement campaign."
Palestinian Charge d'Affaires Feda Abdelhady Nasser said in letters to the council, the General Assembly and the secretary-general that the intensification of the Israeli campaign is clearly part of "Israel's contemptuous response" to the assembly's overwhelming vote last week to recognize the state of Palestine.
The General Assembly voted Thursday to raise the Palestinians' status at the U.N. to a nonmember observer state. A day later, Israel announced plans to build 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and stated its intention to press ahead with two other projects that separate the West Bank from east Jerusalem, the Palestinians' desired capital.
The Palestinian letter said Israel's settlement campaign "is directly impacting the prospects for attaining peace and security in the Middle East."
The Palestinians called on the council and the Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.S., U.N., European Union and Russia — "to act immediately to demand an end to Israel's illegal activities and to salvage the prospects for reviving credible peace negotiations for attainment of the two-state solution of Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace and security on the basis of the pre-1967 borders."
They also urged the broader international community to respond using political, legal and diplomatic means available at the United Nations.
"Israel is methodically and aggressively pushing ahead with this unlawful land grab and colonization of Palestine with the intent to alter the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian territory, especially in and around East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, in its favor in order to entrench its illegitimate control of the land and prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations," the letter said.
Security Council diplomats said Wednesday they have not received a request for a meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
In February 2011, the United States vetoed a resolution, supported by the 14 other Security Council members, which would have condemned "illegal" Israeli settlements and demanded an immediate halt to all settlement building.
The United States said Monday that new Israeli settlements were unhelpful but there was no indication that Washington would support a new U.N. resolution against settlement building.
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner on Wednesday called "rhetoric" about going to the Security Council and taking the settlement issue to the International Criminal Court unhelpful.
"We need to end this kind of rhetoric and get back to the issue at hand, which is getting back to direct negotiations," he said.
Associated Press Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Washington