UN envoy warns of risk of new Israel-Palestinian violence

Nov 30, 2021, 2:53 AM | Updated: 4:58 pm

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Mideast envoy warned Tuesday 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 U.N. 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 U.N. 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 Nov. 18 in Norway’s capital, Oslo.

A statement from the Quartet — the U.N., U.S., 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.

Wennesland called Tuesday for a coordinated approach to “restore a political horizon that will help stop the endless cycle of crisis management and move back towards meaningful negotiations to end the (Israeli) occupation and resolve the conflict on the basis of U.N. resolutions, international law and previous agreements.”

He said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres supports holding a Quartet meeting at ministerial level to focus on medium and longer-term issues to achieve a two-state solution, and he has spoken to the other members, but “we are not there yet.” He added that the envoys are working very hard and are in weekly contact.

Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky also warned of the risks of “large-scale hostilities” like the Israel-Hamas conflict in May and called on the international community to urgently ensure stability on the ground, provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, and create conditions for resuming peace negotiations.

He said the Quartet, which was established in 2002, is the only internationally recognized body to bring the Middle East peace process back on track. It has been criticized for its failure to get either Israel or the Palestinian Authority to change their policies and negotiate an end to their more than three decades-old conflict.

Polyansky said Russia has been pushing for a ministerial meeting of the Quartet which Moscow feels “is overdue, but not everyone from our partners is ready for such a move right now.”

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who recently visited Israel and the West Bank, told the Security Council that the Biden administration still strongly believes in a two-state solution “in which a Jewish and democratic Israel lives in peace alongside a sovereign, viable Palestinian state.”

She reiterated U.S. opposition to Israeli settlement expansion, saying “the practice has reached a critical juncture, and it is now undermining even the very viability of a negotiated two-state solution.”

Thomas-Greenfield said Israel and the Palestinians “are locked in a spiral of distrust” that is preventing cooperation, and rebuilding “some degree of confidence in each other” is key to advancing toward peace.

She made no mention of the Quartet but said that in her meetings “both sides spoke of the need for confidence-building measures to break down the walls of distrust.”

Trust-building needs to be worked out mainly between Israelis and Palestinians, the U.S. ambassador said, but the Security Council can facilitate constructive steps by enforcing its resolutions “to constrain Iran’s regional malign activities, nuclear threats, support for terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah.”

Thomas-Greenfield said the council can also denounce incitement to violence by terrorist organizations or individuals and promote efforts to improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians by urging Israel to grant more work and building permits and facilitating humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Gaza.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Poland starts building wall on border with Belarus

KUZNICA, Poland (AP) — Poland has started building a $394 million high wall on its eastern border intended to block migrants pushed by Belarus in what the European Union calls a “hybrid attack” from crossing illegally into EU territory. Reporters were allowed to see the work in the guarded area on Thursday. Pressure from thousands […]
1 day ago
FILE - A member of airport personnel dressed in protective gear leads passengers into the customs a...
Associated Press

Beijing’s Olympic bubble makes a slightly surreal experience

BEIJING (AP) — For journalists covering the Beijing Winter Olympics, China’s strict pandemic measures are creating a surreal and somewhat frustrating experience. China requires electronic confirmation of the health status of those participating in or covering the Games and shunts them into a closed loop bubble upon arrival. That kept Associated Press photo editor Yirmiyan […]
1 day ago
FILE- Air India planes are parked at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India, Monda...
Associated Press

Tata group regains control of debt-laden Air India

NEW DELHI (AP) — Tata Sons, India’s oldest and largest conglomerate, has regained ownership of Air India, the country’s debt-laden national carrier. Tata pioneered commercial aviation in India when it launched the airline in 1932. It was taken over by the government in 1953. Tata Sons Chairman N. Chandrasekaran met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

European force “deeply regrets” Mali telling Danes to leave

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A European counterterrorism operation in Mali is telling the Malian transitional government that the presence of Danish troops on its soil is legal and is calling on the rulers in the volatile West African nation “to respect the solid grounds on which our diplomatic and operational cooperation are based.” The move […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Israel, Cyprus, Greece electricity cable link gets EU money

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The European Union has earmarked 657 million euros ($736 million) for the construction of a a 2,000-megawatt undersea electricity cable that will link the power grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece, Cypriot Energy Minister Natasa Pilides said Thursday. Pilides told reporters the funding is Cyprus’ largest-ever investment as well as the […]
1 day ago
FILE - Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg listens at an event in Philadelphia, on Jan. 14, 202...
Associated Press

Buttigieg vows help as US car fatalities keep spiking higher

WASHINGTON (AP) — Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is vowing to help stem rising traffic fatalities, releasing a broad-based strategy aimed at reducing speed, redesigning roads and boosting car safety features such as automatic emergency braking. Buttigieg told The Associated Press that new federal data being released next week will show another increase in traffic fatalities […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
UN envoy warns of risk of new Israel-Palestinian violence