A senior UN official reiterated his condemnation of key Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory Thursday, warning that a surge in violence in recent months showed “no sign of relenting.”
The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, told the UN Security Council that current trends were “dangerously imperiling the viability of a two-state solution.”
He blamed a lack of both Israeli and Palestinian “motivation,” but directed his harshest criticisms at key Israeli policies, which he said required a “significant” shift if a political horizon was to be reestablished.
“From the outset, significant policy shifts by Israel, including increasing Palestinian investment and economic activity in Area C, are required to strengthen Palestinian institutions, economy and security prospects,” he said.
He pointed in particular to Israel’s continued state support for Jewish-only settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory — illegal under international law — as well as a dramatic rise in home demolitions.
“Israel’s settlement enterprise continues to be an impediment to peace,” Mladenov said. “While 2015 may have seen a slower overall pace for settlement planning and construction, the reality is that Israel continues to push forward the consolidation of its control of the West Bank.”
He pointed to Israel’s recent confiscation of a vast tract of land in Jericho as “state land,” as well as Israeli government approval for dozens of new settlers homes.
He said the Israeli authorities had also demolished 201 Palestinian-owned structures in the occupied territories in recent weeks, displacing 320 people.
“Since the beginning of 2016, Israel has demolished, on average, 29 Palestinian-owned structures per week, three times the weekly average for 2015,” Mladnov said. “These actions run directly counter to the idea of peace.”
The UN special coordinator said: “Collective international efforts to help establish a political horizon will all be for naught, absent genuine Israeli and Palestinian motivation to address the chronic realities endangering the two-state solution.”
He called on the Palestinians to help create “an environment conducive to peace talks,” particularly by working toward national reconciliation between rival factions Fatah and Hamas, as well as combating “incitement” to violence.
He said that the Middle East Quartet would soon be preparing a report on the current status quo, “including recommendations on the way forward.”
However, he did not offer a positive outlook on the near future, warning that violence appeared set to carry on unabated.
“Some recent incidents may point to a new troubling phase in the conflict,” he said, pointing to three recent attacks carried out by members of Palestinian security forces, although noting that the officers had in each case acted individually.
He also cited an attack outside Jerusalem’s Old City on Feb. 3, where, “in a worrying advancement in weaponry and tactics the three assailants, all of whom were killed, carried semi-automatic weapons, pipe bombs and knives.”
The day after he made his comments, another two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces after allegedly carrying out separate attacks on Israelis.
More than 170 Palestinians and nearly 30 Israelis have now been killed since violence swept the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel at the beginning of October last year.
“The conflict has now arrived at a pivotal point,” Mladenov said. “Israelis and Palestinians must now actively shape their future – with the dedicated support of the international community — before the opponents of peace decide their fate for them.”