The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, has expressed concern about the continuing destabilising deterioration in the occupied Palestinian territories, and the Israeli settlers’ continuing violence against the Palestinians.
“Across the West Bank, daily violence continues; tensions in East Jerusalem and the refugee camps are mounting and settler violence remains a serious concern. Illegal settlements and planning processes are steadily advancing, alongside demolitions and evictions, including in and around Jerusalem,” Wennesland told the Security Council.
He warned that such actions are increasing the territorial fragmentation of the West Bank, undermining the Palestinian Authority, and further eroding prospects for peace.
The UN official also warned that “the Palestinian Authority is still facing a prolonged financial crisis that is affecting service delivery and crippling the economy”.
“Revenues are not keeping up with needed expenditures, resulting in accumulated debt, while investment in health, education, infrastructure and other important sectors is virtually non-existent,” he added.
With regard to the situation in the Gaza Strip, the UN envoy called for “easing restrictions imposed on the movement of goods and people to and from Gaza, with the aim of lifting these restrictions permanently”.
“Let me reiterate the Secretary-General’s call to provide UNRWA with predictable, sustained and sufficient funding to provide essential assistance to Palestine refugees in the region. If we act early enough in the year, we can prevent a financial crisis of the scale of last year and the risk that millions of refugees are left without education, health services and life-saving cash and food assistance,” he added.
Wennesland urged the Israelis, Palestinians, regional States and the broader international community to take firm action to enable the parties to re-engage on the path towards meaningful negotiations.
“Only an end to the occupation and the achievement of two States, living side by side in peace and security, based on the 1967 lines, in line with UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements, will resolve this conflict,” he said.