West News Wire: According to the United Nations Middle East envoy, more than 200 Palestinians and over 30 Israelis have been killed so far this year in the occupied West Bank and Israel, outpacing last year’s total death toll and being the largest number of fatalities since 2005.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland stated before the UN Security Council on Monday that the rising violence is being fueled by Palestinians’ growing pessimism about the future and a lack of advancement towards attaining an independent state.
Speaking to the Security Council from the West Bank, he said, “Palestinians and Israelis are killed and injured in nearly daily violence, including just hours before this briefing when another fatal shooting attack killed an Israeli there.”
“The lack of progress towards a political horizon that addressed the core issues driving the conflict has left a dangerous and volatile vacuum, filled by extremists on all sides,” Wennesland told the Security Council.
Wennesland also mentioned Palestinian “militant activity,” and he said that “the fragility” of the Palestinian Authority’s financial status as well as the severe budget constraints experienced by UN organisations, particularly the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, are aggravating the current scenario.
“While we must urgently focus on addressing the most critical issues and on de-escalating the situation on the ground, we cannot ignore the need to restore a political horizon,” the official said.
“Today, the Council members made it abundantly apparent that the violence must end. I implore decision-makers to take action right away to stabilise the situation. The only place this cycle of violence can go is up, Wennesland declared on social media.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States ambassador to the UN, presided over the meeting on Monday. She urged swift action to stop the violence from getting worse and reaffirmed the support of her country for a two-state solution.
Dmitry Polyanskiy, the deputy UN ambassador for Russia, told the council that Israel’s ongoing illegal unilateral actions to create irreversible facts on the ground were contributing to the long-term stagnation of the peace process. He also warned that the “unprecedented pace” of Israel’s illegal settlement expansion posed a serious threat.
Isis Jaraud-Darnault, France’s UN political coordinator, also denounced “Israel’s colonisation of the Palestinian territories,” which the Palestinians want for their future state, as well as the ongoing Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes and infrastructure, including a school in the occupied West Bank’s Ramallah region on August 17 and which was financed by European donors including France.
Darnault, who also condemned violence against Israelis, told the council that the UN and regional actors have an essential role to play in restoring “a credible political horizon” as a step towards ending the violence.
She claimed that the improvement of ties between Israel and a number of regional states improved stability and security.
But if the political process is not restarted in order to find a solution that satisfies the legitimate aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians, this dynamic will stay unfinished.