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Israeli settlements an obstacle to two-state solution, says UN Secretary General

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (L) shakes hands with Prime Minister of Palestine Rami Hamdallah (R) in Ramallah, West Bank on 29 August 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency

Israel’s settlement activity is illegal and represents a “major obstacle” to the implementation of the two-state solution, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterres, warned today.

Speaking at a press conference with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, held in Ramallah, Guterres stressed that the UN is committed to exert every effort to achieve the two-state solution.

“I want to express very strongly the total commitment of the United Nations, and my personal total commitment, to do everything for a two-state solution to materialise,” he said, adding that “there is no plan B to the two-state solution.”

“A two-state solution that will end the occupation and, with the creation of conditions, also the suffering even to the Palestinian people, is in my opinion the only way to guarantee that peace is established and, at the same time, that two states can live together in security and in mutual recognition,”  the UN chief reiterated.

Read More: On his first visit to Israel, Guterres cast aside any possibility of decolonisation

Guterres underlined that it is important to remove the obstacles for that solution to be implemented.

“We recognize that the settlement activity that, as I’ve said several times, is illegal under international law, that the settlement activity is an obstacle that needs to be removed in relation to the possibility of two-state solution to be adequately implemented,” he noted.

He urged the Israeli and Palestinian sides to avoid forms of incitement. “It’s important to create the conditions for leaders on both sides to appeal for calm, to avoid forms of incitement, for violence to settle down,” he demanded.

The UN chief also expressed his concern over the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, pointing to the UN’s continued commitment to support the enclave’s reconstruction process. “We are totally committed to support UNRWA’s activity as well as the activities of reconstruction that are taking place in Gaza,” he noted.

Guterres also pledged to support the efforts towards creating conditions for a unified Palestinian leadership both in West Bank and the Strip. ”We will do also everything possible to support the effort that President Abbas is making in order to create conditions for a unified leadership both in West Bank and Gaza, with the dialogue for peace behind it.”

On his part, Hamdallah called on the UN to provide international protection for the Palestinian people, compel Israel to implement the resolutions of international legitimacy, and to take serious and effective steps to protect Muslim and Christian holy sites, especially those in Jerusalem.

Today, we discussed with the UN Secretary-General the latest political, economic and humanitarian developments in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza

the Palestinian leader said,

He stressed that “the chances of a two-state solution and the achievement of peace would be eroded by Israeli settlements,” warning that the Palestinians would not “remain silent for long.”

Israeli impunity and accountability, Hamdallah added, reflects “double standards.”

He stressed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) “believes that the achievement of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital will be through peaceful resistance and movement at the international level, especially in the United Nations.”

Read More: UN chief arrives for first Israel-Palestine visit

“The Israeli government is responsible for any deterioration in the security situation because of its insistence on settlement, land confiscation, demolitions, incursions into towns and cities, daily arrests and campaigns against prisoners,” the Prime Minister noted.

Guterres also met with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and is due to visit the Gaza on Wednesday.

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