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UN envoy slams Israel’s land grab policies in West Bank, siege on Gaza

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The United Nations Security Council holds a meeting on the situation in the Middle East at the UN headquarters in New York, October. 19, 2021. (Photo by Xinhua news agency)

The United Nations Middle East envoy has censured Israel’s unlawful demolitions and settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as the crippling siege the regime has imposed on Gaza, complaining of a lack of progress in efforts to achieve a so-called two‑state solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland made the remarks on Tuesday in an address to the Security Council quarterly open debate on the Mideast situation.

He welcomed engagement between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials, adding, however, that “we should have no illusions about the current state of the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict.”

“The situation in the occupied Palestinian territory continues to deteriorate and no progress has been seen towards realizing a two‑state solution. This political stagnation is fueling tensions, instability and a deepening sense of hopelessness,” Wennesland said.

“The security situation in Gaza remains fragile and the security dynamics in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem (al-Quds), are deteriorating, including growing tensions in and around the Holy Sites.”

The UN envoy also complained that the Tel Aviv regime’s settlement construction activities in Area A of the West Bank, as well as demolitions of Palestinian homes, and the blockade on Gaza fuel violence in the occupied lands.

“Israel’s settlement activity, evictions, demolitions and seizures of Palestinian property, military operations, particularly in Area A, and movement and access restrictions, including the severe closures on Gaza, further feed the cycle of violence. A large number of Palestinians, including children, continue to be killed and injured by Israeli security forces. Settler-related attacks against Palestinians and their property — including in the presence of Israeli security forces — also continue,” he said.

Additionally, Wennesland voiced concerns about the Israeli settlement construction plan in the West Bank’s E1 area, saying, “If constructed, 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.”

He said, “All settlements are illegal under international law and remain a substantial obstacle to peace.” 

“We can no longer lurch from crisis to crisis,” he said, underlining the need to avoid approaching the current situation piecemeal — incident by incident, on a short-term day-to-day basis as stand-alone issues.

The UN envoy also called for “a broader package of parallel steps” by the Israeli regime, the Palestine Authority and the international community to address “key political, security and economic challenges that are preventing progress.”


Palestine to UNSC: Normalizing occupation won’t lead to peace

Meanwhile, Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian political and civil society leader, told the debate that the absence of accountability for Israel and of protection for the Palestinian people has enabled Israel to tread over the rights of an entire nation, allowing the perpetuation of a permanent settler colonial occupation.

“Peace is not achieved by normalizing the occupation, side-lining the Palestinian question or rewarding Israel by repositioning it as a regional superpower. Generation after generation the Palestinians have remained committed to the justice of their cause and their inviolable right to live in freedom and dignity as equal among nations,” she said.

“It is time to reclaim the narrative of justice and invoke and activate the Charter of the United Nations and reaffirm international law. Time has come for courageous and determined action not just to undo the injustice of the past but to chart a future of hope and redemption,” Ashrawi added.

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