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Only action will stop fraying of Gaza peace prospects

Obstacles to any lasting deal between Israel and Palestine continue to mount, the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process told Security Council members on Wednesday, and only “concrete action” towards a two-State solution will change that dynamic.

Nikolay Mladenov’s briefing covered all too familiar ground, as he grimly recounted continuing violence against civilians on both sides, continuing incitement, continuing deterioration in relations, and continuing backsliding on settlement building, and overall political progress.

Since the adoption of Security Council resolution 2334 in 2016, aimed at curbing settlement expansion, the situation on the ground “has only deteriorated”, said Mr. Mladenov: “Settlements have expanded significantly, demolitions have accelerated, violence and incitement have continued”.

Furthermore, “achieving intra-Palestinian unity remains elusive, and credible negotiations have yet to be launched. I remain greatly concerned by the persistent lack of progress towards ending the occupation and realizing a negotiated two-State solution”, he added.

Renewed commitment needed

“As I have consistently stated, it is not enough to call for the renewal of our collective efforts to this end, we must take concrete action.”

Without the renewed commitment of both Israel and Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza towards getting peace talks back on track, “the situation will continue to worsen”, he warned.

“I once again urge leaders on all sides to summon the necessary political will to take concrete steps in support of ending the occupation and realizing a lasting peace, resulting in two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States.”

Gaza deadline

A year on from the start of emergency humanitarian funding for the Gaza enclave, combined with economic interventions to prop up the faltering economy, the situation remains fragile, said the Special Coordinator.

“Security risks abound, movement and access restrictions remain severe…Some of the investments made as a result of efforts by the United Nations will end on 31 December, and without additional funding and a durable Israeli and Palestinian commitment, the situation in Gaza could, once again, be pushed to the brink of collapse”, he added.

“The stakes are too high to allow this to happen, all stakeholders must act to prevent the ongoing crisis in Gaza from deepening further.”

Support the 2020 funding plan

Mr. Mladenov also called on Member States to support the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for the occupied Palestinian territories, launched on 11 December.

The 2020 HRP appeals for $348 million to provide basic food, protection, health care, shelter, water and sanitation to 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

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