Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, observed on 29 November:
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not just one of many conflicts in the region. It is, in many ways, a long-standing, gaping wound that has fed tension and conflict throughout the Middle East.
Israeli and Palestinian leaders still voice their support for the two-State solution. However, without urgent steps to revive a political perspective, they risk entrenching a one-State reality. Recent years have witnessed two unsuccessful attempts at negotiating a peaceful settlement, three armed conflicts, thousands of dead — the vast majority of them Palestinian civilians — rampant incitement, terror attacks, thousands of rockets and bombs fired at Israel from Gaza, and an expanding, illegal Israeli settlement enterprise that risks undermining Israel’s democratic values and the character of its society. This year, the number of demolitions of Palestinian houses and other structures by Israeli forces has doubled, compared to 2015. Gaza remains a humanitarian emergency, with 2 million Palestinians struggling with crumbling infrastructure and a paralyzed economy, and tens of thousands still displaced, awaiting reconstruction of homes destroyed by conflict.
All this has led to growing anger and frustration among Palestinians and profound disillusionment among Israelis. It has strengthened radicals and weakened moderates on both sides. Making matters worse is a dangerous vacuum within the international community as crises elsewhere claim the attention of world leaders. The internal divisions and in-fighting in the West Bank add a new worrying dimension to the paralysing lack of Palestinian unity and undermine democracy and the rule of law. With the Israeli occupation approaching its fiftieth year, and the prospects for a two-State solution threatening to slip out of reach, the international community must make it clear that it remains committed to helping the parties to rebuild trust and create the conditions for meaningful negotiations.
The steps required to create conditions for successful negotiations have been spelled out in the recent report of the Middle East Quartet. The United Nations, as well as our partners in the Quartet — the European Union, Russian Federation and the United States — remains committed to working with key stakeholders, including countries in the region, to implement the report’s recommendations. On this International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, let us all reaffirm our commitment to upholding the rights of the Palestinian people and working to build a future of peace, justice, security and dignity for Palestinians and Israelis alike.