After ‘grim’ 2014, UN urges renewed push for Middle East peace
Addressing the opening of the 2015 session of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Eliasson called on the UN system, the international community and all concerned stakeholders to work to revive negotiations for a two-State solution and end the impasse between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples which, he noted, had dangerously deteriorated.
While originally designated as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, 2014 had been “grim” for the region, as talks between the two sides broke down and violence escalated, he continued.
Last summer, for instance, hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip resulted in the deaths of almost 2,200 Palestinians and 72 Israelis, along with the wide-scale destruction of the war-ravaged enclave.
According to a recent UN assessment, as it stands now, over 100,000 homes remain damaged or destroyed, affecting more than 600,000 people. Many people still lack access to the municipal water network. Blackouts of up to 18 hours per day are common.
He added that Gaza remained “a desolate place under blockade and with much human suffering” and called on donors to fulfil pledges made at last October’s Cairo conference for the reconstruction of Gaza.
In addition, the year also saw rising levels of violence in the West Bank with incitement fanning religious tensions in the region and beyond.
“I regret that the parties have since taken unilateral steps that have deepened mutual distrust and distanced them from a prospect of negotiated settlement,” Mr. Eliasson declared.
“I urge both parties to refrain from any action that could further exacerbate the situation and to demonstrate the necessary leadership for reaching and implementing the difficult decisions that lie ahead.”
The Deputy Secretary-General reiterated that Israelis, Palestinians and the international community together held the responsibility for what had become “a collective failure to advance a political solution” to the crisis and said “all good forces must now be mobilised” for a new, successful push for peace.
“As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of our Organization, I call on this Committee to exert all efforts to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable rights,” Mr. Eliasson concluded.
“I reiterate the commitment of the United Nations to help achieve a just and durable peace between Israel and Palestine, resolving the conflict by ending nearly half a century of occupation and establishing a sovereign and independent State of Palestine – living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security.”