With the spotlight on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Special Envoy Nicolay Mlandenov detailed “new dangerous flashpoints” emerging in the region, under rapidly shifting developments in the Middle East as a whole, which have snowballed into a growing threat to international peace and security.
Occupations in Palestinian areas continue, “and no progresss has been made in realizing a negotiated two-State solution”, he reported during his quarterly update to the Council on the Middle East. “It is a multi-generational tragedy for the peoples of this land.”
A growing number of Israeli settlements, illegal under international law, remains a “substantial obstacle” in the peace process. In the last month, plans have advanced for housing units to expand in the occupied West Bank, and though exact numbers have yet to be confirmed, even without this latest advancement, the approval of settlement expansion so far this year is already greater than that for all of 2018, Mr. Mlandenov explained.
Meanwhile, Palestinian structures have been demolished or seized, as Israeli-issued building permits are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain. The teardown or seizure of 51 structures has displaced 80 Palestinians, including 40 children, he said.
Citing a deescalation of tensions in recent weeks, the Special Envoy said Gaza has seen a reduction in violence, brokered by the UN and Egypt, however still, “three Palestinans were recently killed by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), and over 500 injured” in demonstrations along the Gaza perimeter he said, urging authorities to exercise restraint in the use of lethal force.
It is a multi-generational tragedy for the peoples of this land.–UN Special Envoy Nicolay Mlandenov
The exposure to violence, particularly for children, must be contained, he said, with one infant killed following tear gas inhalation during West Bank clashes, among two Palestinians killed, in addition to 88 injured in various incidents, including 11 children. Four Israelis, including two Israel Security Forces personnel were also injured.
In addition, Mr. Mladenov said he is “particularly concerned” by settler attacks in the occupied West Bank, recalling a recent “alarming incident” this month during the annual olive harvest, in which Palestinian farmers, Israeli and foreign volutneers were hit by stones and metal rods by people in the Yitzhar settlement. Four foreign volunteers were injured in addition to one 80-year-old rabbi.
A political core
Highlighting humanitarian gains, Mr. Mladenov said the UN has reported progress on urgent interventions, which “have had an important impact across many sectors”: The average daily availability of electricity has doubled from 5.5 hours in the first half of 2018, to 12-15 hours in the first half of 2019, a way for improved water and wastewater treatment, reduced need for expensive fuel to power hospitals, and lower costs for private businesses and families.
Emergency healthcare has benefited nearly 450,000 people in Gaza, and almost 400,000 have benefited from drugs and medical supplies.
In addition, the organisation’s temporary job creation programmes have produced more than 16,000 positions, with another 1,000 expected in the coming weeks.
These efforts collectively represent fruits of dialogue by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), which functions to coordinate international aid, and highlighted the dire need to suport Palestinian people and advance the two-State solution in it’s last meeting on 26 Septemeber.
Mr. Mladenov stressed that while the humanitarian crisis remains a top priority, “I reiterate, once again, that the core of the crisis in Gaza is political.”
Such is true for surrounding Middle-Eastern nations, also seeing desperate situations: In Lebanon, 1.5 million are engaging in peaceful demonstrations, protests in Iraq earlier this month resulted in scores of fatalities, nine years of conflict in Syria have taken a devastating toll on civilians, including serious human rights violations and an entire generation of children is growing up in war, he said.
“The people of the region have seen enough violence and injustice. The region cannot afford another war…”, he maintained.
Efforts to address the Israeli-Palestinian question, as with the Middle East at large, “cannot be sustained on a purely humanitarian basis. They need a political perspective that illuminates a path forward…”