The outgoing UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process has warned that halting the security cooperation between the Palestinians and Israel “may be the final nail in the coffin of the Oslo Accords.” Robert Serry made his comment during his final briefing to the UN Security Council on Thursday.
The Oslo Accords were signed by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in Washington on 13 September 1993. Serry was referring to the PLO’s decision, announced earlier this month, to suspend security cooperation with Israel as embodied in the 1993 agreement, which stipulates the exchange of information between the Palestinian security agencies and Israel; it obliges the Palestinian Authority to arrest any Palestinian who is planning to carry out attacks against Israeli targets.
The UN official also warned the security council of the danger of Israel’s blocking, for the third consecutive month, of tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA. A total of more than $400 million is being withheld.
Serry welcomed the second visit by the Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to Gaza this week, describing it as a step towards the reintegration of the Strip into the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. He spoke about the “new strategy for prioritising Gaza” which he had called for publicly. “Prioritising Gaza,” he explained, means “a more stable ceasefire” and the possibility of implementing a “reconstruction hudna” (truce), opening of all border crossings, and supporting the government of national security both politically and financially.
Referring to Israel’s “illegal settlement activity”, Serry said, that it cannot be reconciled with the objective of the two-state solution “and may kill the very possibility of reaching peace on the paradigm of two states for two peoples.”
Speaking about the temporary mechanism for the reconstruction of Gaza, he pointed out that more than 80 per cent of the homes that had been damaged during Israel’s military offensive last summer have been restored to habitability. He added that as of 23 March, more than 61,000 Palestinian house-owners were able to purchase building materials to repair their damaged houses.
In response, the President of the UN Security Council, Francois Delattre, France’s Permanent Delegate to the United Nations, affirmed the commitment of all the council’s members to work for peace between the Palestinians and Israel.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian and Israeli ambassadors to the UN exchanged accusations over the stalled peace negotiations. In an interview with reporters after the consultation session, the Palestinian ambassador denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks made ahead of the recent election in Israel regarding the lack of implementation of the two-state solution principle.
Israel’s permanent UN representative, Ambassador Ron Prosor criticised his Palestinian counterpart sharply. Following Riyad Mansour’s interview with reporters, Prosor told them that direct dialogue between the Palestinians and Israel is the only way to achieve peace. He added that Israel had reached a lasting peace with Egypt through direct negotiations and not through the UN. Prosor also attacked Iran, describing it as a serious threat to the region’s countries, especially the Arab Gulf states, as well as the rest of the world.
Indirect Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, under the auspices of Washington, collapsed in April 2014 due to Netanyahu’s insistence on settlement expansion and his refusal to implement the agreed-upon release of long-term prisoners.