A United Nations Envoy has acknowledged that Israel continues to defy a Resolution by the UN Security Council (UNSC) to immediately cease all activity in building illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, as Tel Aviv has advanced plans for the construction of almost 2,000 housing units for settlements in the past three months.
In his address to the UNSC yesterday, the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, admitted that “we continue to see little progress” in implementing the Resolution since its adoption in 2016. He warned that “the absence of a meaningful peace process to end the Israeli occupation and resolve the conflict is fuelling a dangerous deterioration” throughout the occupied Palestinian territories and particularly the West Bank, where the issue is “driving the perception that the conflict is irresolvable”.
Wennesland stressed: “Israelis and Palestinians must determine how they envision the future” and that “Negotiations can no longer be pushed indefinitely.” Urging for “meaningful initiatives” as a necessary way to resolve the issue, he warned that the “current course is leading us towards a perpetual state of violence and conflict”.
The Resolution to immediately halt Israeli and Jewish-only settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank – which are illegal under international law and are a major stumbling block to ending the occupation and establishing a two-state solution – was adopted by the UNSC in 2016, and was not vetoed by Israel’s ally the United States under the administration of former President Barack Obama.
Former President Donald Trump, however, whose administration was far more intimate with Tel Aviv and its interests, later criticised the Resolution and opposed it. With the current administration of President Joe Biden, its ambassador to the UN – Linda Thomas-Greenfield – reiterated to the UNSC yesterday that Washington supports a two-state solution.
She hailed Israeli Prime Minister, Yair Lapid’s “courageous and impassioned speech that articulated his vision of `two states for two peoples’”, and insisted that the “significance of his appeal for peace between Israelis and Palestinians should not be underestimated”. Thomas-Greenfield stated that the time has come “to turn these words into action” and that “there are no short-cuts to statehood.”
In Wennesland’s address to the Council, he also said that no progress has been made by either the Israelis or the Palestinians to uphold other parts of the same Resolution, including the prevention of violence against civilians, refraining from acts of provocation, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, distinguishing between Israeli territory and territories held since the 1967 Six-Day War, and exerting “collective efforts to launch credible negotiations”.
He did, however, say that in comparison to the monthly average for the first two quarters of 2022, the past three months has seen two incidents of contact between Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and high-level Israeli officials, as well as Israel’s issuance of around 16,000 permits for workers and businesses for Palestinians in Gaza. There was also a 1.5 per cent increase in imports and 54 per cent increase in exports through the main crossing from Israel to Gaza.