RAMALLAH, Thursday, May 26, 2022 (WAFA) – Tor Wennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said today that Israel’s killing of revered Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11 brought Palestinians, and countless others around the world, together in grief and anger, while serving as another reminder of the devastating human cost of this conflict.
In his briefing to the Security Council on the Situation in the Middle East, Wennesland said those responsible must be held accountable. He echoed the Secretary-General’s condemnation of all attacks against journalists and his call for the relevant authorities to carry out an independent and transparent investigation.
Wennesland also condemned scenes of violence during Abu Akleh’s funeral procession, where Israeli police stormed the hospital and subsequently beat pallbearers and other mourners with batons, saying the Israeli attack was distressing and offensive.
On a different subject, Wennesland said “settler-related violence continued during the reporting period. On 7 May, in five separate incidents, Israeli settlers, accompanied by the Israeli security forces, entered four Palestinian towns resulting in 100 Palestinians injured.”
He added, “Despite a notable reduction during Ramadan, Israeli authorities demolished, seized or forced owners to demolish 40 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and 12 in occupied East Jerusalem, as well as two structures in Area A, displacing 98 Palestinians, including 50 children.”
Turning to Gaza, he said that the United Nations continues to deliver vital humanitarian and development assistance, as well as to make efforts towards further easing restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the Strip. “Plans are in place to support revitalization of Gaza’s fishery sector, including facilitating entry of dual-use items under the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism. Success of this initiative should pave the way for a further easing of restrictions, including in the agriculture, industrial and health sectors.”
The UN official affirmed that the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites must be upheld and respected, saying that with the current dynamics, particularly in the occupied West Bank, the situation could spiral out of control at any time. “We must push beyond the paradigm of managing the conflict and move towards resolving it,” he said, urging action that will lead back to the path of negotiations, which will end the occupation and establish two States, in line with United Nations resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements.