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20-May-2020 01:38:39
Israel’s threat of partial West Bank annexation will deal ‘devastating blow’ to two-state solution, Middle East Coordinator warns Security Council.

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As Palestinian Authority Reacts by Ending Security Cooperation, Oslo Accord Commitments, Council Members Call for Return to Peace Talks

Israel’s stated intention to annex parts of the occupied West Bank will deal a devastating blow to the two-State solution and close the door to fresh negotiations with the Palestinians towards peace in the Middle East, the top United Nations official for the peace process said during a videoconference meeting* of the Security Council on 20 May.

In the coming weeks and months, all sides must do their part to preserve the prospect of a negotiated two-State resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in line with internationally agreement parameters, international law and United Nations resolutions, Nickolay Mladenov, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said.

“These efforts must begin immediately. There is no time to lose,” he said, three days after the formation of a new Government in Israel and one day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the Palestinian Authority will no longer abide by its security and other agreements with Israel and the United States. “The fate of the Palestinian and Israeli people must not be determined by destructive unilateral actions that cement divisions and may put peace beyond reach in our lifetime.”

He added that the ongoing threat of annexation would constitute “a most serious violation of international law” that would also deal a “devastating blow” to the idea of two States, one Israeli and one Palestinian, living side by side in peace and security on the basis of pre-1967 borders. It would moreover close the door to renewed negotiations and threaten efforts to advance both regional peace as well as international peace and security.

“Israel must abandon the threats of annexation, and the Palestinian leadership [must] re-engage with all members of the [Middle East] Quartet,” which for its part must quickly draft a proposal that would enable it to take up its mediation role and work jointly with others in the region to advance peace prospects, he said, noting that Israeli public opinion is divided on the issue of annexation.

He went on to describe the Palestinian reaction as a “desperate cry for help” and a call for immediate action. “The Palestinian leadership is not threatening. It is calling for urgent action to preserve the prospect of peace,” he said, announcing that he planned to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on 21 May to better understand the decision to cease respecting the Oslo Accords.

Turning to the immediate situation on the ground, he said that it remains dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Palestinian and Israeli authorities — despite political tensions — still coordinating their efforts to limit the spread of the deadly virus, carefully reopen their economies and lift virus-related restrictions on movement.

Relatively successful prevention efforts have so far ensured that the limited capacity of the health system in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has not been overwhelmed, but the ability of the Palestinian health sector — particularly in Gaza — to deal with a potential surge in cases remains a major concern, he said.

Test kits, personal protective equipment, ventilators and essential material for intensive care units remain in short supply due to funding gaps and insufficient global supply, he said, adding that the United Nations and its partners are working to address those gaps and their ramifications.

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