Gazans can no longer be "held hostage by divisions": UN coordinator

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A wide view of the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Nickolay Mladenov (shown on screen), UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, briefed the Council via video conference.
UN Photo/Manuel Elias

The Gaza Strip is a "tinderbox" and its two million residents can no longer be "held hostage by divisions".

That's the stark message delivered to the Security Council on Tuesday, by Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

He called on both Palestinian and Israeli leaders to return to negotiations over the so-called two-state solution.

Matthew Wells reports.

Mr Mladenov told Council members that now was not the time to give up on a negotiated solution to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, with two states living in peace, side by side.

All final-status issues could be solved by mutual agreement, and according to international law and Security Council resolutions, if negotiations begin again in earnest, he said.

He said Israel had not fulfilled its obligations under Resolution 2234, to cease all settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and in fact plans for 4,000 new housing units had been announced in the past few months. 

He condemned the continuing practice by Palestinian authorities of lionizing terrorist attackers as heroes and martyrs.

The Special Coordinator said the Gaza Strip – where a dispute over electricity payments between Palestinian factions has left the population without power for much of the day – was now "a tinderbox".

He said Gazans had had to live through a decade of extremist control by Hamas; dealt with "crippling" Israeli closures; Palestinian divisions, and three "devastating" conflicts.

"If and when it explodes, it will have devastating consequences for the population and derail all efforts at advancing peace. Two million Palestinians in Gaza can no longer be held hostage by divisions…Perpetuating the situation breeds radicalism and extremism. We have a collective responsibility to prevent this, we have a duty to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'19"

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