The United Nations has warned of a new political crisis and conflict between Israel and the Palestinians if Israel continues with its plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
The UN gave the warning in a newly published paper yesterday, in which it said that while cooperation between Israel and Palestine to battle the coronavirus pandemic is commendable and welcome, a new and revived conflict will be underway if current trends between the two continue.
It stressed that if Israel proceeds with its annexation plans and the Palestinian Authority (PA) withdraws from bilateral agreements, the work that has been achieved over the past 25 years will be undermined, security will collapse and both sides will witness further extremist politics.
Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process whose office issued the paper, stated: "All sides must do their part in the coming weeks and months in order to preserve the prospect of a negotiated two-state resolution to the conflict, in line with relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements."
The paper emphasises that the matter is especially important in light of the global spread of COVID-19, which the UN has been helping Palestinians tackle. It stresses that much more support is needed in the occupied Palestinian territories, however, as the health systems in the area would be unable to cope with a further surge in cases, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip.
The paper was written and released in time for the bi-annual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), which coordinates the delivery of international aid to Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority, and is to take place tomorrow.
The UN stated that it is "deeply committed to working with Israelis and Palestinians and with our international and regional partners to realize the objective of a lasting and just peace," which it says "can only be achieved through two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security."
It insisted that "Walking away from this framework undermines the ability of the international [community] to provide this support.
An Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank would also call into the question the purpose of the AHLC and the engagement of its members in support of Palestinian institution building." It added that it is ready to continue to "ensure the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not escalate further or get pulled into the latest regional escalation."
As part of the so-called 'deal of the century' put forward by US President Donald Trump's administration earlier this year, the new Israeli coalition government has set out a plan to annex around 30 per cent of the West Bank by July, including strategic areas such as the Jordan Valley and illegal Jewish settlements.
In response, the PA has expressed its condemnation and outrage by announcing its withdrawal from certain agreements made under the Oslo Accords, with a senior member in the Authority saying yesterday that the annexation would result in another Intifada.
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that Palestinians in the annexed and occupied territories will not be given Israeli citizenship.