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Every opportunity must be used, if we are to move from statements and conflict management to a sustainable two-state solution in line with relevant #UN resolutions, bilateral agreements and international law. #Israel #Palestine

26/08/2020 Leave a comment

On August 25th I briefed the UN Security Council, following the agreement that was reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that stops Israeli annexation plans over parts of the occupied West Bank and includes the normalization of relations between the two countries.

The Secretary-General has welcomed this agreement, hoping it will create an opportunity for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to re-engage. 

Israel’s commitment to suspending annexation removes an immediate threat that had the potential to upend the peace process and regional stability. The Secretary-General has consistently called for Israel to abandon these plans. Annexation would constitute a most serious violation of international law, effectively close the door to a renewal of negotiations and destroy the prospect of a viable Palestinian State and the two-State solution itself.

The Israel-UAE deal also has the potential to change dynamics across the region.

It creates new opportunities for cooperation at a time when the Middle East and the world face grave dangers from the Covid-19 pandemic and radicalization. It will create economic opportunities and opportunities for peace.

I expressed my hope it will inspire leaders on all sides to re-engage constructively in meaningful negotiations to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The terms of reference of resolving the conflict have not changed — they are based on the relevant UN resolutions, bilateral agreements and international law. Only a two-State solution, in which Israel and Palestine live side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition, can lead to sustainable peace.

Today is not the time to despair about the Palestinian cause. Annexation plans have been stopped. In fact, today is the time to redouble efforts, to reach out more actively than ever to leaders in the Middle East, and for the Palestinian and Israeli leadership to re-engage constructively.  

Regrettably, we continue to confront a series of multi-layered challenges on the ground as the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and in Israel continues to be a major concern.

The UN and its partners have continued to support Palestinians in responding to the pandemic, including by addressing critical gaps in medical supplies and equipment. 

Meanwhile, the Palestinian economy is in freefall. Now that the imminent threat of annexation has been removed, the Palestinian leadership should resume accepting its clearance revenues and provide some breathing space for the battered economy. 

The security situation in Gaza has also deteriorated; a trend which soon may become irreversible.

It is essential that the ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt and the UN, which has proved effective since August 2018, be reaffirmed. Mediation efforts will continue; however, I spoke of my concern that militant activity, incendiary balloons, rockets and a deteriorating humanitarian situation inside the Strip are rapidly eroding existing arrangements.

During the past months, Gaza’s economy has deteriorated dramatically. Compounding the impact of continued closures, intra-Palestinian division and more than a decade of Hamas rule, COVID-19-related restrictions have halted the crossing of workers and traders into Israel and inhibited revenue transfers to Gaza’s exporters. The current absence of cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel has also slowed implementation of critical infrastructure projects and jobs have been lost.

UNSCO continues to work with the UN Country Team (UNCT), donors, and the parties to address the needs in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. On 28 July, the UN Country Team released its COVID-19 Development System Response Plan, outlining critical interventions that the United Nations will implement in the coming 12 to 18 months in support of the Palestinian Government. I encouraged Member States to support these efforts.

The UN is deeply engaged in efforts to mitigate the economic and humanitarian consequences of the PA’s decision to halt all coordination with Israel in response to the threat of annexation. 

As reported last month, the UN reached agreements with the Palestinian government to facilitate vital deliveries of humanitarian aid and related equipment. Agreements were also reached with Israel to streamline its administrative procedures for these imports in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

I was pleased to report that coordination between the UN and all sides on the importation of humanitarian supplies is proceeding well. But coordination levels between Israel and the PA remain far below normal. This has impacted the delivery of assistance as well as the provision of services to the Palestinian population. 

Fortunately, after minor delays, a mechanism that supports the transfer of patients requiring medical treatment outside of Gaza has also been established.

Let me reiterate that any increased responsibilities for the UN should be limited and time-bound and not designed to replace the roles and responsibilities of the Palestinian Authority or of the Government of Israel.

I remain very concerned that the suspension of coordination and revenue transfers cannot be sustained for much longer without severe humanitarian and economic consequences.

Over the reporting period, militants fired some 20 rockets towards Israel and launched some 270 balloons carrying incendiary devices, causing hundreds of fires and forcing some civilians to be evacuated from their homes.

Shrapnel from rockets intercepted by the Iron Dome damaged a car and two houses in the Israeli town of Sderot. Six civilians were lightly injured while running for shelter.

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) responded by striking Hamas targets and agricultural fields, firing some 80 missiles and shells, with five people reported injured, including four children and one woman. Following one of these strikes, an unexploded Israeli missile was found in an UNRWA school in the ash-Shati refugee camp. The IDF has classified this as an accident that is under review.

I reiterated that the indiscriminate launching of rockets and incendiary devices towards Israeli population centers violates international law and must cease immediately.  Likewise, children and schools should never be targeted by any party, nor should children be exposed to violence.

In response to the sharp rise in the number of incendiary balloons, on 11 August, Israel limited the transfer of some goods and halted the transfer of construction materials through the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza. On 12 August, Israeli authorities stopped all fuel deliveries until further notice, including donor-funded fuel. As a result, the Gaza Power Plant has shut down, sharply reducing electricity provision to three hours per day. This is severely impacting critical infrastructure, including sewage treatment and provision of clean drinking water. It is also affecting health facilities, schools, and conditions at some of the quarantine centers that are critical to efforts to prevent an outbreak of COVID19 in the Strip, particularly concerning given reports yesterday of the first identified cases of COVID-19 outside of quarantine centers in Gaza. Additionally, on 16 August, Israel closed the Gaza fishing zone completely.

The day before, after hearing the news of the new COVID19 cases in Gaza, the UN asked Israel to reinstate the delivery of Qatari funded fuel for the Strip in order to help prevent a major health crisis. 

This latest escalation has once again demonstrated the urgency of implementing long-term solutions for Gaza.

The Israeli population in proximity to the Strip live in constant fear, watching their lands burn and their children run for shelter. The Palestinian population in Gaza endure unbearable economic conditions, no freedom of movement and political isolation. Closures and rounds of escalation have defined their lives for over a decade. 

There is a moral imperative to end all militant activity in Gaza, restore Palestinian national unity and lift Israeli closures.

But the political solutions that must be provided by leaders are nowhere in sight. Instead, we have a day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year patchwork of crucial humanitarian efforts to prevent war and to try and sustain the lives of two million desperate Palestinians in Gaza.

I then turned to the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, three Palestinians, including one child and one woman, were killed and 47 injured, including two children and one woman, in clashes, attacks, search and arrest operations, and other incidents. Seven Israelis, including two soldiers and one child, were injured during the reporting period.

In one tragic incident, a 23-year-old Palestinian woman was killed by live fire in her home in Jenin during an ISF operation and ensuing clashes with local Palestinian residents. There are contradictory claims over responsibility for the shooting, with ISF and local residents denying the use of live ammunition.

On 13 August, Israel’s prosecution authorities filed an indictment against five Border Police officers on 14 counts of serious abuse, including assault and robbery. A video subsequently released showed unacceptable, vicious beatings and humiliation of Palestinian detainees.  

On 16 August, an 18-year-old Palestinian was shot and injured by ISF while reportedly attempting to throw a Molotov cocktail at Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem. The following day, another Palestinian man was shot and killed in Jerusalem’s Old City while carrying out a stabbing attack against an Israeli Border Police officer, who was moderately injured.

In another unfortunate incident involving a disabled person, on 17 August, ISF shot and injured a 60-year-old Palestinian man with hearing and speech impediments at the Qalandiya checkpoint when he did not respond to their calls to halt.

On 20 August, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy died after reportedly being shot by ISF near the village of Deir Abu Mash’al, west of Ramallah. Two other Palestinians were reportedly injured. The ISF stated that the three were preparing to throw Molotov cocktails and set alight tires to attack passing vehicles.

I reiterated that lethal force should be used only as a last resort, against an imminent threat of death or serious injury and in accordance with the principle of proportionality. I called on the Israeli authorities to investigate these incidents.

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a concerning increase in violent crime within Palestinian communities across the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, as well as violent incidents involving Palestinian Security Forces (PSF) and civilians, with several people shot dead in recent weeks.

Palestinian organizations, meanwhile, focused on gender-based violence (GBV) in the West Bank have also reported a sharp increase in femicides. I urged Palestinian authorities, in line with their obligations, to enhance the protection of women and girls from GBV.

Meanwhile, settlers perpetrated 20 attacks against Palestinians, resulting in four injuries and damage to property.

On 12 August, settlers attacked Israeli Security Forces during an operation to demolish structures at an outpost near the settlement of Yitzhar.

Palestinians carried out 27 attacks against Israeli settlers and other civilians in the West Bank, resulting in five injuries and property damage.

During the reporting period,

Israeli authorities demolished 72 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and East Jerusalem,

displacing some 89 people, including 32 women and 40 children, and affecting 20 others. In addition, 11 Palestinians self-demolished their structures to avoid additional fines.

On 10 August, Israel’s High Court of Justice overturned an order to punitively demolish the home of a Palestinian accused of killing an Israeli soldier in May 2020. The Court emphasized that the rights of the perpetrator’s wife and children would be disproportionately harmed if the demolition were to proceed.

I also spoke briefly about the region. In Lebanon, over 180 people are dead following the explosion in Beirut port on 4 August, with 30 persons still missing and several thousand injured. Almost 300,000 people are in need of shelter. A Lebanese investigation into the explosion is ongoing, with the assistance of experts from France, Russia, Turkey and the United States. Following the 9 August international donors’ conference co-convened by France and the United Nations, at which nearly $300 million in aid was pledged, a UN Flash Appeal launched on 14 August raised another $565 million to help address humanitarian and recovery needs.

Popular protests continued, while informal consultations on the formation of a new Government are ongoing, following the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s Government on 10 August. At the same time, the COVID-19 outbreak has worsened, prompting a nationwide lockdown in Lebanon. On 18 August, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon delivered its verdict in the Ayyash et al case, concerning the 2005 attack that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others, convicting Ayyash, while acquitting the three other defendants for lack of evidence.  

While the situation in the UNIFIL area of operations remained generally stable, tensions have been observed along the Blue Line, including a breach of the cessation of hostilities on 27 July. UNIFIL continues to maintain stability and defuse tensions, including through its liaison and coordination efforts with the parties.

On the Golan, tensions between Israel and Syria heightened on 2 and 3 August. On 2 August, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) carried out a strike killing four individuals from the Bravo side in the vicinity of the ceasefire line. The IDF informed UNDOF that they had carried out an attack on targets east of the Israeli technical fence to thwart an attempt to place explosives in that area. The following day, at the request of Syrian authorities, UNDOF facilitated the retrieval by the ICRC Syria of the remains of the four individuals that were killed. The IDF, on 3 August, also fired missiles from a helicopter across the ceasefire line onto the Bravo side, informing UNDOF that the IDF struck Syrian armed forces targets in response to the attempted IED attack the night before. UNDOF continues to engage with both parties to prevent an escalation of the situation and to remind them of their obligation to respect the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement.

In closing, I urged that we not lose sight of the deteriorating dynamics on the ground. Gaza is teetering on the brink of another major escalation with Israel, the occupied West Bank is fracturing under a multitude of economic and political pressures, settlement expansion and demolitions continue, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on Palestinian and Israeli societies.

Without resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, regional peace will not be complete.

The legitimate national aspiration of five million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza cannot be ignored.

It is well beyond time that we all work together with the parties for peace before it is too late. That is why every opening must be explored, every opportunity must be used, every idea must be discussed and debated if we are to get out of the cycle of statements, preventive diplomacy and conflict management and work towards a real solution that is sustainable and in line with relevant UN resolutions.

‪The #COVID19 pandemic is likely to also have severe socio-economic consequences for the #Palestinian people. All must work together to avert economic collapse. The #UN supports PM @DrStayyeh’s efforts to put together an #emergency budget and address the crisis.‬

12/04/2020 Leave a comment

I am concerned about the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 health crisis on the Palestinian people, particularly vulnerable communities in Gaza.

In addition to the public health implications of the pandemic, the negative shock to the Israeli and Palestinian economies will have profound implications for public welfare, employment, social cohesion, financial and institutional stability.

If current trends continue, the damage to the Palestinian economy will be substantial.

Economic contraction and necessary public health restrictions are having an adverse effect on the economy and the viability of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Revenues from trade, tourism and transfers have declined to their lowest levels in the last two decades. It is estimated that the fiscal gap for 2020 will reach USD 1 billion by the end of the year.

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) projects that a three-month shutdown and a six-month shutdown would lead to GDP contractions of 5.1 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively. A decline of 7 percent of GDP would represent a negative shock among the largest annual contractions recorded since reliable statistics began in 1994.

With very limited control over its economy, the Palestinian Government does not have access to the conventional monetary and fiscal tools necessary to remedy the crisis. These are in the hands of Israel. 

Preserving the functioning and stability of the PA is vital to the security and well-being of both Palestinians and Israelis alike.

The current situation is extremely dangerous and calls for bold action by all stakeholders.

I welcome Prime Minister Shtayyeh’s announcement of an emergency budget aimed at keeping public spending to a minimum. This budget should focus on health-related expenditures, income support to vulnerable Palestinians, support for affected firms, especially small and medium enterprises, and continuity of government, including salaries and security-related expenditures. All spending should be oriented to these priorities. Gaza’s specific needs must be adequately addressed too.

Israel has a critical responsibility. I welcome the emergency transfer of some ILS 120 million last month to the PA. This is an important first step. Urgent discussions however need to take place on how Israel can ensure regular transfers, even If clearance revenues continue to fall, in order to guarantee a smooth functioning of Palestinian institutions and service delivery to the Palestinian people. Both parties must work quickly to resolve barriers standing in the way of regular transfers, including withheld clearance revenues.

The Palestinian Government will also require generous external support and technical assistance that is targeted directly to the recovery process. This demands improved coordination among donors with a focus on prioritized, targeted and integrated programing that guarantees transparency and accountability of funding.

The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) forum provides the platform for support to the PA as we move forward on the recovery process. I welcome the statement of the Chair of the AHLC on 3 April 2020, calling for strong international donor support.

The UN has been working closely with all stakeholders to ensure coordinated assistance to the health networks dealing with the spread of the virus in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. 

We stand ready to support the Palestinian Government’s socioeconomic response plan and urge all stakeholders to do the same.”

Upholding #UN resolutions and international law is just as important as preventing escalation and #war in #Gaza and paving the way for negotiations.

20/11/2019 4 comments

On 20 November I briefed the UN Security Council on the latest developments in the Middle East.

We met in in the aftermath of the most serious recent escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza. Although the immediate crisis was diffused, the situation remains highly volatile.

Following Israel’s targeted killing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Commander Baha Abu al-Ata in Gaza, Palestinian militants launched more than 500 rockets towards Israel. This latest escalation was preceded on 1 November by some ten rockets that were launched from Gaza towards Israel, one of them hitting a house in Sderot City.

While according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) 90 per cent were intercepted by the Iron Dome, those that landed caused damage to residential and commercial property. 78 Israelis were treated for injuries or shock. 

The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars at civilian population centres is unacceptable and must stop immediately.

In response to the rocket attacks, the IDF conducted a number of strikes against PIJ and militant targets in Gaza. 34 Palestinians were killed, more than 20 of them identified by the IDF as militants, and three women and eight children. One of the fatalities was reportedly caused by a Palestinian rocket falling short inside Gaza. In total, 109 people were injured as well.

Among the people killed in Gaza were eight members of a family, who were killed in a single Israeli strike. The IDF has reportedly admitted that their home was mistakenly targeted. This is a tragic and heinous incident and must be thoroughly and impartially investigated.

There is no justification for the killing of civilians anywhere.

I welcomed the extraordinary effort by Egypt, working closely with the UN, to ensure that calm in Gaza was restored after 48 hours of hostilities. Had our efforts failed, we would certainly be in the midst of another war that would be far worse than the terrible conflict in 2014.

The dangers have not passed. Although for now, the arrangements that came into effect in the early hours of 14 November are holding, sporadic rocket launches have continued, prompting Israeli retaliation. 

There are also other risks.

Israeli closures and intra-Palestinian division feed a desperate reality. Militant activity, rocket fire, and retaliatory air-strikes constantly risk more violence. Over the past year and a half, the UN has worked hard to prevent escalation and implement the UN package for Gaza as endorsed by the AHLC. As a result of this work, electricity supply was restored to an average of 13 hours per day, more than 16,000 temporary jobs were created, and work is progressing on reviving an industrial zone to create long-term economic opportunities. All these measures have admittedly eased tensions, but they fall short of what is required both in terms of financial resources, political commitment by Palestinian leaders, and measures by Israel.

Gaza ultimately requires a political solution. 

Militant activity cannot continue to undermine the chances for peace and development.

Israel cannot continue with its policy of closures that stifles development.

Palestinian leaders cannot continue to avoid the devastating consequences of their internal political division.

I took the opportunity to thank those in the international community who have contributed to the implementation of the AHLC plan and call on all to increase their support to UN programmes on the ground. Most urgent is the need to address the collapse of the health system in Gaza.

Nevertheless, our important humanitarian engagement must not divert us from the political goal of helping Palestinians to develop freely, without relentless occupation, and Israelis to live in security, free from the fear of terror and rockets. The only way to ensure this goal is to work towards — and achieve — a two-state solution, based on relevant UN resolutions; a two-state solution, in which Gaza is an integral part of the future state of Palestine. 

Protests at the Gaza perimeter fence have also continued with a small number of participants engaging in violent activities. The IDF responded with riot dispersal means and live fire, injuring over 300 people, including women and children. 

Israeli security forces (ISF) must exercise maximum restraint and only use lethal force when strictly necessary, as a last resort, and in response to an imminent threat of death or serious injury, in accordance with international law. 

Hamas must ensure that protests at the fence remain peaceful and prevent provocations.

If we want a way out of the crisis – a way out that leads to something more than yet another ceasefire, the road is clear: stop firing rockets, retaliatory strikes and provocations, uphold the understandings that sustain calm in Gaza, redouble efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and lift the closures, and focus on a long term, sustainable political solution that includes allowing the Palestinian people across the occupied territory to vote and elect their leaders for the first time since 2006.

In recent weeks, I have engaged with senior Palestinian officials and different factions and am encouraged that all sides have moved from their entrenched positions and made important concessions toward making elections a more realistic prospect.

Renewing the legitimacy of all national institutions is important for the future of the Palestinian people.

In my discussions, I emphasized to all the critical elements required for elections to be credible:

First, they must be organized across the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) – in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza – in line with the Palestinian Basic Law, electoral legislation and international best practices; 

Second, both legislative and presidential elections are necessary and should be held within a clearly identified and reasonable timeframe;

And third, broad intra-Palestinian agreement must be reached on the modalities of holding elections.,

As Palestinians hopefully accelerate their efforts tohold elections, the Israeli-Palestinian political deadlock continues to manifest itself in the continuation of negative trends on the ground. 

On 1 November, some 2,600 housing units were advanced by the Civil Administration High Planning Committee, including 182 units in Mevo’ot Yericho, an outpost in the Jordan Valley that the Israeli Government decided in September to retroactively legalize as a new settlement. Other notable plans include 382 units in the Dolev settlement, west of Ramallah, and 609 units in the large urban settlement of Beitar Illit, west of Bethlehem. 

I took this opportunity to reiterate that we regret the announcement made on 18 November by the United States that it no longer views settlements as inconsistent with international law. The UN position remains unchanged. As per UNSC Resolution 2334, Israeli settlement activities are a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. 

Demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures also continued across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Citing the absence of Israeli-issued building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain in Area C and East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities demolished or seized 48 structures resulting in the displacement of 101 Palestinians, including 46 children. 

This practice must immediately cease.

Violence continues across the OPT.

In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, 46 Palestinians, including 9 children, and three Israelis were injured in various incidents, including during clashes, search and arrest operations, and settler-related violence. 

On 11 November a 22-year-old Palestinian man was killed in circumstances that indicate that he did not pose a threat. Such acts must be thoroughly and impartially investigated, and the perpetrators held accountable. The IDF has reportedly launched an investigation into this incident.

Four days later on 15 November, a Palestinian journalist lost an eye after being reportedly shot by ISF while covering a demonstration in Surif village, north of Hebron.

I remain concerned by continuing, and sometime escalating, settler-related violence. Attacks on Palestinians and their property in the context of the annual olive harvest have continued despite preventive measures adopted by the Israeli authorities. These attacks, along with restrictions on Palestinian farmers’ access to their land in areas adjacent to Israeli settlements and behind the West Bank barrier, have undermined agricultural livelihoods.

Despite the agreement reached last month between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which resulted in the transfer of some USD 425 million of clearance revenues to the Palestinian Authority, the underlying disagreements between the two parties remain, including over Israel’s deductions. It remains critical that both sides engage in a constructive manner with the goal of restoring the revenue transfers in full line with the Paris Protocol on Economic Relations. The UN stands ready to assist this process.

In a positive development, on 11 November, UN-Women, with support from the Government of Norway, launched a USD1.2 million programme to support the advancement of the Women Peace and Security Agenda in Palestine, including the development of the Palestinian National Action Plan for the next four years on the implementation of UNSCR 1325.

I have regularly updated the Council and its members on the financial challenges UNRWA continues to face. Cash flow is reaching a record low. I welcome the extension of UNRWA’s mandate until 2023, as adopted by the 4th Committee of the General Assembly on 15 November. Given the stakes, I urge the swift mobilization of support to enable the Agency to sustain its operations.

Turning now briefly to other developments in the region, on the Golan the situation remains calm. However, the continued violations of the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement remain of concern particularly in this volatile time for the region. On 19 November, UNDOF observed two unidentified objects being fired from a location on the Alpha side and heard three explosions. The IDF informed UNDOF that it had intercepted rockets fired from Syria. The Syrian authorities informed UNDOF that they had no knowledge of any firing of rockets. On 20 November, the IDF carried out airstrikes against what it described as Iranian Quds Force and Syrian Armed Forces targets in Syria.

Further details of the developments on the occupied Golan will be reported in the Secretary-General’s Report on UNDOF due to the Security Council on 3 December.

In Lebanon, peaceful nationwide and non-sectarian demonstrations triggered by frustration against government policies led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri on 29 October. Security forces have largely responded with restraint allowing peaceful demonstrations to continue despite heightened tensions at roadblocks. After one month of unabated protests, a political deadlock hinders the nomination of a Prime Minister-designate and the formation of a new government, amidst a rapidly deteriorating economic situation. The United Nations has called for a swift formation of government that is responsive to the protestors aspirations and which has the parliament’s backing. The UN also encourages the Lebanese security forces to continue to protect peaceful demonstrators. 

In the UNIFIL area of operations, following decreased joint operations with the Lebanese Armed Forces prompted by the popular protests, UNIFIL’s operations in close coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces returned to normal levels in early November.

The Council will be briefed on resolution 1701 on 25 November.

In closing, I returned to the issue of the long overdue Palestinian elections. The Palestinian people have a right to vote and elect their leaders. For too long they have been denied that right and division has set in. A whole generation’s voice for the future has yet to be heard. Intra-Palestinian division is like a cancer eating away at the aspiration for statehood, peace and the commitment to democracy, rule of law and human rights.

Elections are not a gift. They are a right. If elections are to build unity, they must take place in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. How can you heal the devastating division if people in Gaza are not able to vote for their future?

The United Nations will do all that is necessary to support a successful Palestinian election process.

But, ladies and gentlemen, we must be cognizant of broader risks as well.

The continuing risk of war threatens to upend all our efforts to prevent escalation and revive a political process. The UN will continue our efforts to prevent another devastating conflict despite all odds. 

Upholding the international consensus on resolving the conflict and all final status issues on the basis of the two-state solution as per relevant UN resolutions, international law and mutual agreements is just as important. Unilateral moves fuel anger and disillusionment and significantly undermine the prospects for establishing a contiguous and viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the future capital of both states.