NEW YORK, Friday, February 15, 2019 (WAFA) – In his address to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which was established by the UN General Assembly in 1975, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza must be “immediately addressed”.
He underscored that the two million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip “remain mired in increasing poverty and unemployment, with no access to adequate health, education, water and electricity”, leaving young people with “little prospect of a better future”.
Guterres expressed that the UN firmly supports Palestinian reconciliation and “the return of the legitimate Palestinian Government to Gaza”, as “an integral part of a future Palestinian State”.
The UN chief also urged “Israel to lift restrictions on the movement of people and goods, which also hamper the efforts of the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies, without naturally jeopardizing legitimate security concerns.”
Lauding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for its “critical work” in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and across the region, he called on the international community to “significantly” increase efforts to revitalize Gaza’s economy.
Turning to the “risk of further unrest in the West Bank”, the UN chief flagged that Israeli construction and settlement plans have expanded, including in East Jerusalem.
“Settlements are illegal under international law” he asserted. “They deepen the sense of mistrust and undermine the two-State solution”.
On the issue of Jerusalem, he reiterated that the city should be a shared capital of the two states, Palestine and Israel, living side by side.
Guterres said he regretted Israel’s decision not to renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, saying: “I hope an agreement can be found by the parties to preserve this long-standing and valuable arrangement.”
“Palestinians have endured more than a half-century of occupation and denial of their legitimate right to self-determination” with both sides continuously suffering from “deadly cycles of violence”, the UN Secretary-General remarked.