Amid a “critical” security situation on the ground, the United Nations political chief today called on Israelis and Palestinians to exercise maximum restraint and find a way to return to negotiations.
“With peace negotiations suspended since the end of April and despite restraint initially displayed by both sides, the situation on the ground has turned highly volatile with several disturbing developments,” Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Security Council as he briefed the 15-member body on the latest developments.
He reported that intensive search operations in the West Bank for the three Israeli students abducted near Hebron on 12 June are ongoing with a corresponding increase in violence in the West Bank. In addition, the hunger strike by Palestinian administrative and other detainees since 24 April continues; new settlement units have been announced; and the fragile calm in Gaza was interrupted by multiple rockets fired at Israel and Israeli military response.
“All these issues, on which the United Nations has pronounced itself unequivocally, can only be addressed if the parties act responsibly and with restraint,” stressed Mr. Feltman.
“Only then can any renewed attempt by the parties to find their way back to meaningful negotiations and to address the much lacking political horizon in order to avert further escalation take hold.”
Regarding the situation in the West Bank, Mr. Feltman reported “significant” increases in the number of Palestinians detained, killed or injured since last month’s briefing, including an estimated 928 Palestinians detained during Israeli search and arrest operations. Twelve Israeli security forces personnel were also injured during the past month.
Demolition of Palestinian structures and settler attacks were on the rise during the reporting period, while settlement activity – illegal under international law – continued apace, he added.
Meanwhile, in Gaza, the prevailing calm started unravelling, especially following the abduction of the Israeli youth. In addition, the persisting dire socio-economic situation resulting from a tightened access regime and continued violence has seriously complicated the prospects for the new government of national consensus in assuming its functions and delivering tangible improvements to the lives of Gazans.
“Both sides have a responsibility to exercise maximum restraint in order to contain what has rapidly developed into a critical security situation on the ground, to restore the calm and to see opportunities to return to a negotiating process,” Mr. Feltman stressed.
“This is a time for renewed impetus and political will to end the conflict and the occupation that has already scarred the lives of far too many Israelis and Palestinians for far too long.”