United Nations’ official told the Security Council that the past month witnessed some inspiring examples of cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians against the common enemy COVID-19. In the security council briefing on the situation in the Middle East, Special Coordinator Nickolay Mlandenov said that the cooperation across the conflict lines opened fresh prospects for progress in the quest for peace.
However, the UN envoy admitted that the past month has also seen continued confrontation and fighting in the West Bank and Gaza, with ever-rising casualties. It was the first briefing by the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz agreed on a power-sharing deal to form a coalition government.
Despite ongoing tensions, #COVID19 pandemic has resulted in inspiring examples of cooperation between Israelis & Palestinians, @nmladenov tells Security Council, urging leaders to seize moment to take steps towards peace. https://t.co/nkNh0fWdVh— United Nations (@UN) April 24, 2020
Mlandenov underlined the key aspect of the deal where both parties agreed on advancing annexation of parts of the West Bank, starting from July 1, 2020. Highlighting the “dangerous prospect” of annexation by Israel of parts of the occupied West Bank, the UN official told the council that such a move would constitute a serious violation of international law.
The Special Coordinator said that the Palestinian Authority has threatened to cancel the implementation of all bilateral agreements if Israel moves ahead with annexation. He warned that it will deal a devastating blow to the two-state solution, close the door to a renewal of negotiations, and threaten efforts to advance regional peace.
Notwithstanding the worrying situation, Mlandenov said that the COVID-19 crisis has created some opportunities for cooperation, adding that he hopes these opportunities will not be undermined or destroyed if the political context between Israel and the Palestinian Authority deteriorates. He told the council that both sides are coordinating their efforts on tackling the common threat posed by the pandemic.
“The recognition of this interdependence could, if there is political will, can translate into tangible progress towards resolving the conflict,” said Mlandenov.
(Image Credit: AP)