UN envoy warns of risk of new Israel-Palestinian violence
The UN Mideast envoy has warned that without quick and decisive action to address the key drivers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the region risks plunging into “another deadly escalation of violence.” Tor Wennesland told the UN Security Council it's essential that the parties “calm things on the ground,” reduce violence across the Palestinian territories, avoid unilateral steps including new Israeli settlement building, and solidify the May cease-fire that ended an 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip.
In addition, he called for urgent action to tackle the severe fiscal and economic crisis threatening the stability of Palestinian institutions in the West Bank. But he warned: “Even a full and immediate financial package may not be sufficient or come quickly enough – if at all – to help buffer the consequences of the current situation.” Wennesland told reporters afterward there is “broad consensus” among the 15 council members that to prevent a possible imminent conflict “there needs to be a pushback on activities in and around Jerusalem and the West Bank,” financial stability for the Palestinian Authority so it can pay salaries, and a halt to settlement activity.
As the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Wennesland represented the United Nations at the first in-person meeting in two years of envoys of the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators on November 18 in Norway's capital, Oslo.
A statement from the Quartet -- the UN, US, Russia and the European Union -- urged Israel and the Palestinians to address the ongoing violence, settlements, and “the untenable fiscal crisis within the Palestinian Authority.” It welcomed steps announced by Israel “to reach out to the Palestinian Authority and assist with the fiscal crisis” but expressed deep concern at developments in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.
The Palestinians have sought an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, territories seized by Israel in the 1967 war. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but imposed a crippling blockade when the Palestinian militant group Hamas seized power from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' forces in 2007.
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