NEW YORK, Tuesday, January 26, 2021 (WAFA) – A Uinted Nations official Tuesday evening called on Israel to cease its colonial settlement activity in the West Bank.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, stated that the Israeli colonial settlements are illegal under international law and are a major obstacle to peace, noting that they undermine the prospect of achieving a two-State solution, urging the Government of Israel to cease all settlement activity in the occupied territory, including in East Jerusalem.
He urged Israel to cease demolitions and seizures of Palestinian property, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law, and to allow Palestinians in Area C and East Jerusalem to develop their communities.
He called for support for the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines, UN resolutions and international law, rejected unilateral steps, and urged all parties, including the Quartet, to take steps towards launching negotiations.
He praised the President Mahmoud Abbas’ decree announcing the holding of legislative, presidential and Palestinian National Council elections this year, calling it a crucial step towards Palestinian unity, giving renewed legitimacy to national institutions, including a democratically elected Parliament and Government in Palestine.
He also welcomed the amendment of the elections law raising the quota for female representation from 20 to 26 percent, calling to facilitate, strengthen and support women’s political participation, including as voters and candidates, throughout the electoral cycle.
Wennesland praised the concerted efforts taken by the Palestinian government to contain and halt the spread of the coronavirus, which have succeeded in lowering the overall number of active cases in the West Bank and Gaza.
He emphasized the importance to continue to support the Palestinian Government’s effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic through the delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE), oxygen therapy machines, testing materials and other critical equipment.
The UN official encouraged Israel to help address the priority needs of Palestinians in the OPT and to support COVID-19 vaccine availability more generally.
Wennesland addressed the financial crisis gripping the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), reiterating that the financial situation of UNRWA remains a serious concern as the agency is not only a lifeline for millions of Palestine refugees, but is also critical for regional stability, re-newing the Secretary-General’s appeal for support.