Upcoming Intra-Palestinian Talks Critical for Gaza Strip’s Future, Resumption of Peace Talks with Israel, Special Coordinator Tells Security Council

20 November 2017
8108th Meeting (AM)

Upcoming Intra-Palestinian Talks Critical for Gaza Strip’s Future, Resumption of Peace Talks with Israel, Special Coordinator Tells Security Council

Critical intra‑Palestinian talks were scheduled to open in Cairo, Egypt, on 21 November, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process told the Security Council today, emphasizing that a genuine change in Gaza, including full Palestinian Authority control over security, would help restore confidence in the feasibility of a comprehensive peace agreement.

Nicolay Mladenov said via video link from Jerusalem that by signing the intra‑Palestinian reconciliation agreement in Cairo on 12 October, Palestinians had embarked on a long road that could lead to reconciliation.  However, first, they must solve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and return the Strip under the full civilian and security control of the Palestinian Authority.  The Authority had regained control over Gaza crossings, and on 2 November, the Palestinian committee tasked with rationalizing and integrating Gaza’s public sector had held its first meeting.  The transfer of responsibility at Gaza‑based public institutions was slowly proceeding, he said.

Yet, despite progress in implementing the October Cairo agreement, Gaza residents had not seen any improvements to their daily lives, he said.  The lack of electricity had devastated basic services.  Most of the population had access to piped water for only three to five hours every 5 days, and untreated sewage continued to flow into the Mediterranean Sea.  The Gaza humanitarian appeal had called for $25 million in new funding, of which $10.8 million remained unmet.  A donor meeting in Ramallah had been convened recently to discuss how to support returning Gaza under the Palestinian Authority’s control.

Mr. Mladenov also welcomed the restoration of full security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, announced on 8 November.  However, on 30 October, the Israel Defense Forces had uncovered another tunnel from Gaza into Israel.  During the operation, at least 12 Palestinian militants had been killed underground.  According to Islamic Jihad, the aim was to “kidnap Israeli soldiers”.  On 31 October, a Palestinian man had been shot dead by Israeli security forces near a West Bank settlement.  On 17 November, two Israelis had been injured in a ramming attack in the West Bank.

He also reported that Israeli planning authorities had approved building permits for at least 418 housing units in East Jerusalem settlements and had issued additional approval of 178 units in the settlement of Nof Zion in East Jerusalem.  On 10 November, the Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] had pledged to advance $226 million for the construction of infrastructure in the occupied West Bank to improve settlement connectivity to Israel.

In addition, he said that the Knesset was considering an amendment that would require a majority of 80 out of 120 members for any transfer of territory of Jerusalem to a “foreign entity”.  Israeli authorities had demolished or seized 30 Palestinian structures, and three Bedouin herding communities in Area C were at risk of having a total of 520 structures demolished, including donor‑funded structures serving as schools.

Turning to the matter of Lebanon, he noted that Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation had shocked the country and the region.  Recalling the international statements of support for Lebanon’s stability, sovereignty and independence, he reported that Mr. Hariri was in Paris and expected to return to Lebanon shortly.

The security situation on the Golan remained of concern, he said.  Fighting between the Syrian Arab Armed Forces and armed groups, as well as fighting between armed groups, continued.  Those developments undermined the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement and had the potential to jeopardize the long‑standing ceasefire between Israel and Syria.

Addressing the Palestinian unity efforts, he said that, with all the difficulties inherent in the Egyptian‑led process and concerns about the timing and modalities of the Palestinian Authority’s assumption of full civilian and security control of Gaza, the process must not be allowed to fail.  If it did, it would most likely result in another devastating conflict.

While voicing his concern about the implications of the latest developments related to the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) representation in the United States, he underscored that Palestinian leaders, as well as Israel and the international community, had an important responsibility to advance peace efforts.  “This is a Palestinian‑owned process,” he emphasized.  “All Palestinian factions must seize this opportunity to open a new page for their people.”

Elbio Oscar Rosselli Frieri (Uruguay), reaffirming his delegation’s support for the Special Coordinator’s efforts, condemned violence by Palestinians against Israelis as well as Israeli settlement activity, arguing that both set the peace process back.  He stressed that the two‑State solution remained the only way to end the conflict.  Welcoming the progress towards Palestinian reconciliation, he said it was essential to consolidate security issues and change Hamas’ position on the destruction of Israel.  He called for all parties to exercise flexibility and prioritize the peace process.

Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz (Bolivia) said persistent, unchecked defiance by the Government of Israel and its disregard for its international responsibilities continued to paint a gloomy picture, including through its settlement activity and its blockade of Gaza.  He urged the Council to take immediate steps to end the longest‑lasting occupation in the modern world, particularly in light of the humanitarian situation in Gaza.  Welcoming progress in Palestinian reconciliation, he called for honest dialogue towards Israeli‑Palestinian negotiations, condemned all violence, and reiterated his delegation’s full support for the self‑determination of the Palestinian people.

The meeting began at 9:06 a.m. and ended at 9:34 a.m.

For information media. Not an official record.