|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7178th Meeting (AM)
Without Credible Political Horizon, Oslo Paradigm Could Be Put in ‘Real Jeopardy’,
Senior Political Official Tells Security Council in Briefing
Since the 29 April open debate on the situation in the Middle East, political efforts towards a two-State solution had reached an impasse, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs told the Security Council today.
Oscar Fernández-Taranco, echoing the tone of April’s briefing, said that, “without a credible political horizon, we risk putting the Oslo paradigm in real jeopardy”. Yet, parties could not be rushed back to the table without proper parameters in place. The current pause could allow them to consider next steps, building on the United States’ “intensive engagement” over the past nine months.
The Secretary-General, he said, remained committed to working towards a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, but it was the responsibility of both sides not to take unilateral steps which would further complicate efforts to resume the talks.
In that connection, he recalled Ban Ki-moon's appeal that both Israelis and Palestinians "convince each other anew that they are partners in peace". International efforts, he stressed, should continue towards creating conditions for a resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
In a thorough and detailed report, he noted that the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas were continuing discussions towards the formation of a Palestinian national consensus Government consisting of technocrats, which was a top priority. However, it was paramount that all factions of the future Government abide by the Palestine Liberation Organization commitments of recognition of Israel, non-violence and adherence to previous agreements.
Israel had transferred 463 million new sheqalim in value added tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority after deducting 120 million new sheqalim for water and electricity payments, he said. However, among other incidents in the West Bank, during clashes with Israeli security forces on 15 May, two Palestinian teenagers who were unarmed and appeared to pose no direct threat had been shot dead. Calling for an independent and transparent investigation by Israeli authorities into those two deaths, he urged its security forces to strictly adhere to the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
Demolition activities were continuing, he went on, which included, among others, the destruction of 26 structures and displacement of 48 Palestinians. In a separate “worrisome development”, Israeli authorities had, in late April, issued eviction orders to at least 5 out of 12 families of Palestinian Bedouins and herder communities living in Sateh al Bahr, near Jericho. Since the beginning of the year, 13 demolition incidents had been reported in the E1/Ma’ale Adumim area, which was higher than the combined total of 11 such incidents recorded over the preceding four years, from 2010 to 2013. At the same time, Israeli authorities, after failed attempts at voluntary evacuation, had begun demolishing structures in the illegal settler outpost of Ma’ale Rehav’am.
Turning to the situation in Gaza, he said that, although Palestinians had fired three rockets into Israel and Israeli forces had reportedly shot and injured six Palestinians near the border fence, among other incidents, things had remained relatively calm as compared to recent reporting periods. Nonetheless, persisting dire economic and humanitarian conditions as a result of restrictive access and violence were of great concern. An “alarming” 66 per cent of 20- to 24-year-old Gazans were jobless at the beginning of the year, while materials to maintain essential services and upgrade critical infrastructure, such as the water network, were urgently needed.
A sustainable structural solution to Gaza’s energy problems needed to be advanced, he stressed. Its only power plant faced near shutdowns every couple of months and, as a result of a second Qatari contribution of $32 million to procure industrial fuel for the plant, would be able to operate only until mid-June. Meanwhile, the Turkish Government’s emergency stop-gap donation for site reserves to replenish health and water facilitates had been implemented. He appealed to donors to “step in and sustain this interim safety net” for Gaza’s electricity needs, especially in light of the coming summer months.
Still, 10 United Nations construction projects, worth around $17 million, and a $17 million housing project of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had resumed. However, six pre-approved projects, valued at $12 million, had remained stalled and an additional $105 million of construction works had yet to be approved by Israel’s Government.
He also reported that, in early May, two Palestinians, one of them a civilian, had been executed in Gaza on claims that they had collaborated with Israel. The executions had been carried out without the approval of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as required by Palestinian law. The lack of due process, the use of military courts to try civilians, lack of compliance with rigorous fair trial standards, and allegations of torture were of grave concern, and he urged the de facto authorities in Gaza to impose an immediate moratorium on executions.
Turning to developments in Lebanon, he noted that the two-month presidential election period had begun on 25 March. Although four parliamentary sessions had been held for that purpose, none of the declared candidates had gained the required number of votes in the first sessions, and subsequent sessions had no quorum, resulting, therefore, in no votes. Because President Michel Sleiman’s term would expire on 25 May, he underscored the importance of successful elections.
An improved security situation in Tripoli and in the Bekaa continued, although some incidents had occurred close to the Syrian border, he said. In addition, violent incidents in Palestinian refugee camps had led to 10 fatalities and clashes between armed groups. Operations of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) along the Blue Line remained relatively calm, although Israeli violations of Lebanese’s airspace continued almost daily.
Recalling the briefing on Syria last week by Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, he emphasized that ongoing clashes in the Golan illustrated the situation’s volatility. The heavy fighting between the Syrian armed forces and the armed opposition had occurred close to the crossing gates between the Alpha and Bravo side, and tank rounds and artillery shells had landed across the ceasefire line. Although there had been no response from the Alpha side, such developments could escalate the situation between Israel and Syria, thereby jeopardizing the ceasefire between the two countries.
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 10:25 a.m.
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