UN chiefs warns of ‘one-state reality’ in Middle East

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (AFP)
Updated 06 February 2018
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UN chiefs warns of ‘one-state reality’ in Middle East

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday that recent developments in the Middle East could create “an irreversible one-state reality” that would bury the two-state solution of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
“Negative trends on the ground have the potential to create an irreversible one-state reality that is incompatible with realizing the legitimate national, historic and democratic aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians,” Guterres told a UN meeting of a committee on Palestinian rights.
The UN chief said the global consensus on settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “could be eroding, making effective concerted action more difficult to achieve, at a time when it is more important than ever.”
The Middle East peace process was upended when US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, ignoring the internationally-held view that the status of the holy city would be decided in peace negotiations.
The General Assembly adopted a resolution last month rejecting the US decision by a vote of 128 to nine with 35 abstentions.
The United States has also cut back its funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), prompting Guterres to appeal to countries to step in to fill the gap.
Israel’s ongoing construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, violent attacks and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza are dimming prospects for a long-term peace, said the UN chief.
“There is no Plan B,” Guterres told the meeting. “A two-state solution is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and secure a sustainable solution to the conflict.”
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is due to address the UN Security Council later this month after US Ambassador Nikki Haley said he lacked the courage needed for a peace deal.


UN, Palestinians launch humanitarian appeal after funding cuts

Updated 40 min 34 sec ago
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UN, Palestinians launch humanitarian appeal after funding cuts

  • The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan outlined 203 projects to be carried out by 88 different groups
  • The plan prioritized 1.4 million Palestinians most in need of food, health care, shelter, water and sanitation

JERUSALEM: The United Nations and the Palestinian Authority on Monday appealed for $350 million in humanitarian relief for Palestinians next year, saying that they needed more but had to be realistic in the face of “record-low” funding.
The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan outlined 203 projects to be carried out by 88 different groups, including UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.
The plan prioritized 1.4 million Palestinians most in need of food, health care, shelter, water and sanitation, said Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“Humanitarian actors are facing unprecedented challenges, including record-low funding and a rise in attacks to delegitimize humanitarian action,” he said in a joint statement issued on Monday, ahead of the appeal’s launch in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Although “much more assistance is needed,” McGoldrick said, the plan was “reflecting what we can realistically accomplish in this highly constrained context.”
Over the past year, the United States has slashed its funding to the Palestinians, including to the UN agency that provides services to 5 million Palestinian refugees.
The United States promised $365 million to the agency in 2018, but paid only a first instalment of $60 million before announcing in August that it would halt all future donations.
The move was widely seen as a means of pressuring the Palestinian leadership to enter peace negotiations with Israel.
The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem — territories that Israel captured and occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.
US-brokered peace talks between the sides collapsed in 2014 and a bid by US President Donald Trump to restart them has so far showed little progress.
Around 77 percent of the funds sought in the 2019 plan would go to Gaza, the appeal organizers said, because the densely populated coastal strip faced a “dire humanitarian situation” after years of an Israeli-led blockade, internal Palestinian political divisions and casualties from demonstrations and recurring hostilities.
“The humanitarian context in the oPt (Occupied Palestinian Territories) is still deteriorating due to the Israeli occupation violations in a time of lack of resources and declining funds because of the politicization of the humanitarian aid,” Palestinian Social Development Minister Ibrahim Al-Shaer said in the statement.