World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Israel-Palestine: Breakdown In Cooperation Over COVID, Now Putting Lives At Risk

© UNRWA/Khalil Adwan An UNRWA staff member provides medication to an elderly Palestine man in the Gaza strip.

Cooperation between Israelis and the Palestinians at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic is breaking down, putting human lives at risk as the economy goes into meltdown and the threat of Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank lingers, the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process says.

Nickolay Mladenov, briefing the Security Council on Tuesday, said that a dramatic increase in novel coronavirus cases in both the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Israel is having a big impact on the situation on the ground.

Gaza prevention efforts faltering

Israel and the Palestinian Authority have both put restrictions on movement back into place, but the ability to cope with a big surge in cases in the West Bank - and to improve prevention efforts in Gaza – is being “significantly compounded” by the end of coordinated measures seen at the outset of the pandemic, he said.

In addition, the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to accept any clearance revenues transferred by Israel, is blocking the ability of Gaza inhabitants to travel outside for treatment and triggering delays in the delivery of humanitarian assistance, he added.

The UN is trying to help by engaging with all sides to ensure that humanitarian aid gets through, but there are limits to what it and others can do, he said, stressing that primary responsibility for people’s well-being still remains with the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday put the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Israel at 49,481, with 403 fatalities. In the West Bank and Gaza, it reported 10,052 cases and 65 deaths.

Mr. Mladenov briefed the Council’s monthly debate on the Palestinian question via video-teleconference as several world leaders – including, in a recent op-ed in an Israeli newspaper, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson - echoed Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to abandon plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

The Special Coordinator also reiterated the UN chief’s call to members of the Middle East Quartet, Arab countries, and the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to re-engage urgently.

“We need to restart diplomacy”, he said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic and its ensuing economic crisis, which has sent Israeli unemployment soaring past 20 per cent, are a chance to move forward along the path to a negotiated two-State solution in line with UN resolutions, bilateral agreements and international law.

‘Extraordinary measures’

“The ferocity of the COVID-19 virus and its devastating human and economic toll demand extraordinary measures (that) rise above politics-as-usual,” he said.

“Immediate efforts to curb the virus and to mitigate its impact must be prioritized. Israeli and Palestinian leaders have a duty to protect the lives and livelihoods of their populations.”

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN News: UN Censures ‘heinous Attacks’ In Lake Chad Basin

Conflict over many years has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in north-east Cameroon. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe The Secretary-General strongly condemned “heinous attacks” against civilians in the Lake Chad Basin, a UN spokesperson ... More>>

South Africa: COVID-19 Pandemic Raises The Urgency Of Structural Reforms

South Africa responded swiftly to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the sharp drop in activity adds to long-standing challenges and raises the urgency of structural reforms, according to a new OECD report released today. In the latest Economic Survey of South Africa ... More>>

United Nations: ‘Immediate Humanitarian Assistance’ To Support Beirut

The response to Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut requires global support in order to “surmount the devastating impact” of the crisis facing the Lebanese people, the UN Deputy Special Coordinator for the country said on Thursday. More>>

UN Experts: Turkey Should Preserve Hagia Sophia As Space For Meeting Of Cultures

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul should be maintained as an inter-cultural space reflecting the diversity and complexity of Turkey and its history, and preserving the outstanding universal value which resulted in its World Heritage Status, say two UN human rights ... More>>