UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said he is encouraged by the recent engagement between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Arguing that “piecemeal approaches” to the question of Palestine would only ensure that the “underlying issues perpetuating the conflict remain unaddressed,” said Guterres on Tuesday urging both sides to “expand these contacts”.
“Unilateral steps and illegal actions that drive the conflict must cease. Incitement to violence will lead nowhere and must be rejected by all,” he told the 2022 opening session of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
According to the top UN official, the situation continues to pose a significant challenge to international peace and security, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Political, economic and security conditions across the Occupied Palestinian territory are deteriorating as Palestinians experience high levels of dispossession, violence and insecurity,” Guterres said.
The Secretary-General urged the international community to stimulate “urgent” efforts for resolution of the conflict and ending of the occupation in compliance with UN resolutions, international law, and bilateral agreements.
He reiterated the goal of two states “living side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders,” based on the pre-1967 lines, with Jerusalem as their shared capital.
“There is no plan B,” he noted.
The UN Chief remains concerned with territory-wide violence, including with settlers and during military operations, that have led to numerous deaths.
In Gaza, Guterres called on all sides to stop hostilities and support the growth of the economy.
As a result of ongoing illegal settlements, demolitions and evictions, he said the situation is feeding hopelessness, animosity, and diminishing prospects for a negotiated solution.
“All settlement activity is illegal. It must stop,” he added.
He stressed the importance of improving the economic and humanitarian situation in Palestine as the international community works to revive the political process.
He highlighted support for the UN Humanitarian Flash Appeal, ongoing reconstruction efforts in Gaza, and Covid-19 response.
Despite these efforts, Guterres remained concerned about the “dire” fiscal situation facing the Palestinian authority, saying it undermines its ability to provide its people with services.