New York UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov has warned that the possibility of establishing a viable, contiguous Palestinian state has been systematically eroded by facts on the ground.
Briefing the Security Council on Tuesday, ahead of the quarterly open debate on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Mladenov began his downbeat assessment by detailing the extent and growth of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. He reminded the Council of the UN's long-standing position that considers the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories illegal under international law and "an obstacle to peace.
Mladenov cited recent examples including plans for over 3,000 housing units in West Bank settlements, as well as the Israeli plans to legalize several illegal outposts. At the same time, he said, Palestinian-owned structures have been demolished and seized across the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, with Israeli authorities citing a lack of Israeli-issued building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain, as justification.
The special envoy said the foundations of a future Palestinian state are also being threatened by internal divisions, exacerbated by decades of occupation. He added that hopes for genuine intra-Palestinian are fading by the day, as the gap between Gaza and the West Bank widens.
Mladenov delivered his briefing on the same day that senior UN officials and NGO partners called for a halt to plans to forcibly evict several Palestinian refugee families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.
In a statement, the officials said that forcible transfer is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and called on the Israeli authorities to cease settlement construction, and abide by their obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Source: International Islamic News Agency