'Now is not the time to give up' on two-state solution, UN Middle East envoy tells Security Council
Achieving a negotiated two-state outcome is the only way to lay the foundations for enduring peace that is based on Israeli security needs and the Palestinian right to sovereignty and statehood, the United Nations envoy on Middle East peace told the Security Council today.
“Now is not the time to give up on this goal. Now is the time to create the conditions for a return to negotiations to resolve all final status issues on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, mutual agreements and international law,” Nickolay Mladenov, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process told the Council via videoconference from Jerusalem.
Noting that today's meeting coincided with the 50-year anniversary of the Arab-Israeli war, which resulted in Israel's occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan, Mr. Mladenov said he would devote the bulk of his briefing to the implementation of Council resolution 2334 (2016), which called on Israel to “cease all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”
Yet, despite the resolution's call, there has been “substantial” increase, “with plans for nearly 4,000 housing units moving forward and 2,000 tenders issued.”
“The policy of continued illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territory contravenes resolution 2334. The large number of settlement-related activities documented during this period undermines the chances for the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution,” he stressed.
Continuing terror attacks, violence and incitement remain a very serious concern. While, the security situation had remained free of rocket fire and airstrikes, Mr. Mladenov updated the Council with a list of killings on both sides.
Calling the problem of violence “a hallmark of the conflict,” he reminded the Council that “leaders have a responsibility to implement measures demonstrating their commitment to combatting violence and any acts of provocation and inflammatory rhetoric.”
The Special Coordinator reiterated the call by the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East peace process for both parties to take steps “to reverse negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-state solution.”
Mr. Mladenov called Israel-approved measures to advance the Palestinian economy “positive steps forward,” he noted that “it remains to be seen whether this will significantly increase Palestinian civil authority, in line with Quartet recommendations and prior commitments between the parties.”
As electricity supplies wane, Gaza Strip remains a 'tinderbox'
On another pressing issue, the UN envoy stressed the urgency of addressing the rapidly deteriorating situation in Gaza, calling it a “tinderbox,” which “if and when it explodes,” will have “devastating consequences for the population and derail all efforts at advancing peace.”
“Two million Palestinians in Gaza can no longer be held hostage by divisions,” underscored the UN envoy. “Perpetuating this situation breeds radicalism and extremism,” he said, adding: “We have a collective responsibility to prevent this. We have a duty to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.”
While acknowledging the significant budget constraints the Palestinian Authority and the need to support the Government in addressing them, he noted that all decisions must be taken with due consideration of their humanitarian impact, calling “on Palestinian leaders to urgently reach the necessary compromises that will return Gaza to the control of the legitimate authorities.”
“The crisis is leading toward another conflict. A conflict that no one wants. I urge all parties to act before it is too late,” he emphasized.