According to the UN Middle East diplomat, the conflict between Israelisand Palestinians has “repeatedly reached a boiling stage”, the UN Security Council warned Monday of an escalating violence amidst a stalled peace negotiations.
Tor Wennesland Special Coordinator called for stronger international support for the two-State Solution and suggested possible paths forward.
He said that recent months have seen a lot of violence in the occupied West Bank as well as in the Israel. This has led to severe suffering.
This included attacks on civilians from both parties, increased use of arms and settler violence.
Intensification of violence
“After decades of violence, illegal settlement expansion and dormant negotiations, the conflict has again reached a boiling point,” he stated.
Two Israelis died and more than a dozen were injured in Jerusalem bombings last week. This was condemned by the envoy. He condemned the attacks on Palestinian settlers in Hebron by Israeli settlers days earlier, which he too denounced.
“This sudden increase in violence in Occupied Palestinian Territory is occurring in the context a stalled Peace Process and entrenched Occupation, and amidst mounting Economic and Institutional Challenges faced by the Palestinian Authority,” stated Mr. Wennesland.
“Global trends and decreasing donor support have compounded the challenges, along with a lack of democratic renewal for Palestinian citizens.”
Risque of escalation
In addition, the “fragile tranquility” in Gaza had been interrupted recently when Palestinian militants launched 4 rockets towards Israel. This prompted the country’s defense forces to launch airstrikes.
“Once again we are reminded, militant activity, debilitating closes, absence from the legitimate Palestinian Govt and hopelessness create an always-present risk for escalation,” he stated.
Mr. Wennesland has continued to have discussions with Palestinian, Israeli officials as well with international and regional actors.
Progress and limitations
The UN and partners worked together to mediate, support and facilitate ceasefires at Gaza in May as well as earlier in the year.
The local economy was supported by measures that included improved access and movement in Gaza for goods and people.
He continued to say that critical projects were successfully completed. This included fueling the Gaza generator and helping more than 100,000 families who are in dire need. These will continue to be carried out into the next year.
Mr. Wennesland also emphasized the importance of progress. He noted, for example, that Israel had approved the most number of permits for Gaza to work on its territory.
However, there are still delays and restrictions that continue to be in place, which can negatively impact humanitarian and developmental efforts.
He said that the diplomatic engagements and preventive measures have helped to maintain calm on ground and allow for some progress. However, without any tangible political movement their benefits are likely short-lived.
Probleme with the Palestinian Authority
He said that in the meantime, the Palestinian Authority has significant and institutional problems.
Since 2006, elections were not held. More than half of the electorate (people aged 18-35) has never been able to vote.
“This is occurring against the backdrop to changing dynamics in the region and shifting international priorities, as well as the fallouts of the conflict with Ukraine, which have significantly decreased the attention given to this conflict,” said Mr. Wennesland.
Engagement on political matters
The envoy stressed that urgent action must be taken towards the two-State Solution. This solution, he stated, still has considerable support among Palestinians, and Israelis.
He identified three related actions to help both sides move forward on fundamental issues.
“First, it is essential that we continue to engage in dialogue with all parties to reduce tensions and counter harmful trends, especially when they impact final status issues. This will require reining the violence and incitement as well holding criminals accountable. This means that both sides should stop taking unilateral steps to undermine peace.
The second point was that should improve access, movement and commerce to allow the Palestinian economies to grow. It is necessary to take a more comprehensive approach in order to reduce restrictions on the movement of people and goods within Gaza.
International support required
Final point: Mr. Wennesland stressed the need for strengthening Palestinian institutions and improving governance, as well as the need to improve the financial health of the Palestinian Authority.
“The PA’s legitimacy and accountability must also b bolstered through democratic reforms and the opening of the civic spaces, holding elections throughout the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territory), as well as ensuring the credibility and effectiveness the Palestinian security forces,” he stated.
He added that without the implementation of points one and two above would not be possible .
Mr. Wennesland acknowledged the difficulty of advancing these steps under current circumstances. He called for more international commitment, and coordinated and sustained resources, attention, and engagement with the parties.