United Nations, June 21: Developments in the Middle East cannot be divorced from Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territory and settlement-building or Hamas’ hold over Gaza and its militant activity, a senior United Nations envoy has told the Security Council, warning that these actions “collectively erode the prospects of a two-State solution”.
“The persistent threat of war; unilateral actions that undermine peace efforts and severe challenges to the fiscal viability of the Palestinian Authority” also gnaw into the scenario, Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator on the Middle East Peace Process, stated on Thursday.
Mladenov updated the Council on the situation in the Middle East between 25 March and 10 June 2019, and highlighted that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) “continues to face significant financial challenges” and is operating on a projected shortfall of $211 million if its $1.2 billion budget for the year.
“This could impact operations, including UNRWA’s ability to maintain food assistance to over one million Palestine refugees in Gaza”, he explained, calling upon Member States to support its 25 June Pledging Conference in New York.
While Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) calls on Israel to “cease all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory”, he said that “no steps have been taken to this effect”.On the contrary, “Israeli authorities advanced, approved or tendered nearly 6,000 housing units in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem”, he reported, saying that it constituted “the largest settlement advancement in two years”.The Special Coordinator noted that some 20 per cent of all the plans advanced or tendered were in settlements “deep inside the West Bank”.
He said that Israel’s National Infrastructure Committee rejected a series of objections against a controversial plan to construct a cable car between West Jerusalem and the Old City – raising concerns among East Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents that it “seeks to deepen Israeli control over the area”.
Citing the absence of Israeli-issued building permits, Israeli authorities continue to demolish and seize Palestinian-owned structures across the occupied West Bank, according to Mladenov.
Noting “a very dangerous escalation of violence in Gaza, and continued violence in the occupied West Bank”, Mladenov recalled that resolution 2334 also calls for “immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including all acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation and destruction”.(UNI)