NEW YORK, September 18, 2013 (WAFA) – United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, Tuesday told the United Nations Security Council that Palestinians and Israelis should sustain negotiations and “refrain from actions that risk undermining the prospects of negotiations.”
However, Serry said Israel has continued with acts on the ground that could undermine these negotiations.
“Stability in the West Bank is all the more critical as talks are ongoing and parties should exert all efforts to avoid violence,” said Serry.
He made reference to the Israeli army killing of five Palestinians in Jenin and Qalandia refugee camps last month. A sixth Palestinian was killed in Jenin refugee camp on Tuesday, the day Serry was giving his speech.
“We strongly deplore these losses of life,” he said.
He warned that Israeli settlement activity, which has continued at full pace in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem in spite of the resumption of negotiations, “is counterproductive and against international law.”
He also expressed concern for what he said was “increased tensions in the Old City of Jerusalem,” which resulted in clashes between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police on and around al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
“Incitement, provocations or violent actions must cease and the sanctity of holy sites of all faiths must be respected,” demanded Serry.
Israel, he said, also demolished 33 residential structures, including of the Bedouin community of Tel al Adassa in East Jerusalem, leading to the displacement of 176 Palestinians including 78 children.
“The ongoing practice of demolitions of Palestinian structures that do not have an Israeli-issued permit, only highlights the need for Israel to address the urgent housing and development needs of Palestinian communities in Area C and East Jerusalem,” said Serry.
“Palestinians require access to a fair planning and zoning regime so as not to resort to the building of structures without an Israeli permit that leads to demolitions,” he said.
Serry focused in his briefing on efforts for renewed peace prospects in the Middle East which he said should not be neglected even against the background of turmoil elsewhere in the region.
“The negotiating teams have been engaged in several rounds of talks and we encourage both sides to accelerate and intensify their discussions,” Serry said.
“Any substantial political initiative must yield early dividends in the immediate period ahead with tangible improvements to security and socioeconomic conditions for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” he said.
The UN official said next week’s ministerial meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee is expected to discuss a Palestinian economic initiative, developed in close consultations with Quartet Representative Tony Blair and US experts, which should mutually reinforce and complement the political track.
“The UN report to the AHLC highlights steps towards expanding Palestinian economic activity, including in Area C, to improve the lives of Palestinians and increase revenue through taxation for the Palestinian Authority,” he said, urging donors to continue to provide “timely and predictable direct budget support.”
However, he stressed that “the status quo is not sustainable absent real political progress.”
“We sincerely hope that the resumption of negotiations marks the beginning of closing the gap, renewing hope for a final status agreement in which Palestinians can realize their rightful aspirations for an independent and viable Palestinian state and Israelis can meet their legitimate security needs and become a full partner in the development of a stable and prosperous Middle East. Another opportunity may not present itself soon,” said Serry.