United Nations, October 20: UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland told the Security Council on Tuesday that no progress has been made towards the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Political stagnation is “fueling tensions, instability and a deepening sense of hopelessness,” Wennesland said. “We should have no illusions about the current state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” describing a situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) that continues to deteriorate, with no progress towards the two-state solution.
He painted a picture of a situation that is “increasingly desperate” defined by extremists and unilateral actions on all sides, which heightens risks for Palestinians, Israelis, and the region at large.
“Israeli and Palestinian civilians are suffering and paying a steep price for the persistence of the conflict, including the protracted occupation,” said Wennesland.
In the meantime, settlement activity, evictions, Palestinian property seizures, and movement restrictions are “further feeding the cycle of violence” as Israeli civilians are killed and injured in Palestinian attacks.
In his report, the UN envoy described “nightly clashes” between Israelis and Palestinians, and stressed the importance of holding all perpetrators of violence accountable and swiftly bringing them to justice.
Wennesland highlighted Israeli plans for construction in E1, located adjacent to and northeast of East Jerusalem, saying that these units would “sever the connection between the northern and southern West Bank, significantly undermining the chances for establishing a viable and contiguous Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution.”
“I reiterate that all settlements are illegal under international law and remain a substantial obstacle to peace,” he insisted.
In “a welcome development,” the special coordinator said that Israeli and Palestinian officials had announced that some 4,000 undocumented Palestinians in the West Bank would be registered in the Palestinian population registry and receive identity documents.
Meanwhile, as expenditures exceed revenues and donor support, Palestine’s economic decline continues, with bank loan options “exhausted.”
He voiced concern that “these negative trends are occurring simultaneously across the West Bank and Gaza” and should not be left unaddressed.
“We can no longer lurch from crisis to crisis … incident by incident, on a short-term day-to-day basis as stand-alone issues,” he said, calling for a “broader package of parallel steps” by Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community that addresses the “key political, security and economic challenges” that are barring progress.