UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland has expressed grave concern over the continued violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, and over the deteriorating security situation.
Clashes, attacks, military operations, and high levels of settler-related violence have continued in the past few weeks, alongside calls by Palestinian militant factions for increased confrontations with Israel, he told the Security Council in a briefing, Xinhua news agency reported.
Continued unilateral steps, including Israeli settlement advancement, evictions and demolitions, and the severe fiscal and economic crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory further exacerbate the situation and undermine the Palestinian Authority’s institutional stability, he added.
“If left unchecked, I am concerned that not only may the situation in the West Bank further deteriorate, but these dynamics could also impact the security situation in Gaza and undermine the cessation of hostilities that has held since May,” warned Wennesland. “It is crucial that all parties take immediate steps to lower tensions and restore calm.”
Violent incidents have continued throughout the occupied Palestinian territory. Since September 29, 12 Palestinians, including one woman and four children, were killed by Israeli security forces, and 306 Palestinians, including three women and 53 children, were injured, 16 of them by live ammunition, he said.
Thirty-nine Palestinians, including four children, were injured by Israeli settlers or other civilians, who also perpetrated 121 attacks resulting in damage to Palestinian property, he said.
In all, two Israeli civilians were killed and 39 Israelis — 30 civilians, including two women and two children, and nine members of Israeli security forces — were injured by Palestinians. Palestinians perpetrated 105 attacks resulting in damage to Israeli property, he said.
“The rising levels of violence we have seen in recent weeks should be a clear warning to us all. If left unaddressed, the festering conflict drivers … will drag us into yet another destructive and bloody round of violence. We must act now to prevent that from happening,” warned Wennesland.
The deterioration of the security and socio-economic situation across the occupied Palestinian territory is deeply worrying and the situation must be reversed. It is essential that the parties avoid unilateral steps that change the reality on the ground, reduce flashpoints and violence across the occupied Palestinian territory, he said.
Concerted efforts by the parties are required to maintain calm, strengthen Palestinian institutions and restore hope. Furthermore, steps by all parties are urgently needed to shore up the economic and institutional stability of the Palestinian Authority, including through the implementation of needed reforms, he said.
2021 has been a year of significant shifts in the political context affecting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, resulting in one of the most challenging set of circumstances to face the Palestinian Authority since its establishment, he said.
“Nevertheless, I look ahead to next year with a determination that we will find opportunities to reverse the negative trajectory and work toward a constructive engagement by the parties — with the support of the international community — to restore a political horizon,” he said.
The UN remains committed to supporting Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict and end the occupation through the achievement of a two-state solution, said the envoy.