Published On: Sun, May 16th, 2021

UN Leader: Immediate Halt To Hostilities, Both Sides Need Intensified Mediation Efforts

By Janet Ekstract

UNITED NATIONS (TURKISH JOURNAL) – In his opening remarks to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) On The Situation In The Middle East, on Sunday morning, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the current hostilities in Israel and the Palestinian territories “utterly appalling.”

The Council presidency China convened the emergency meeting to seek a way forward to end some of the worst violence in the region in decades.

The Secretary-General made it clear that this outbreak of violence will only distance any real hope for coexistence and peace. Guterres said: “Fighting must stop. It must stop immediately.” He said the UN has all parties engaged in working toward an immediate ceasefire in the region. He commented: “Leaders on all sides have a responsibility to curb inflammatory rhetoric and calm the rising tensions. The fighting risks dragging Israelis and Palestinians into a spiral of violence with devastating consequences for both communities and for the entire region, potentially creating a new locus of dangerous instability.” The secretary-general emphasized that all humanitarian installations must be protected and that journalists must be allowed to work “free of fear and harassment.”

The UN leader said the situation in the Middle East is a potential timebomb. Guterres said the potential “to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis” is very real. He pointed out that if this situation is left unresolved, that it will encourage extremism in Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel but also across the Middle East. Guterres pointed out that thousands of Palestinians were forced to leave their homes in Gaza and take shelter in schools, mosques and other locations with limited access to water, food, hygiene or health services. He also highlighted the fact that Israeli civilians are living in a very dangerous situation with rockets being launched from Gaza. The secretary-general said he is especially worried about an attack reported on the UNRWA refugee camp in Gaza where 10 members of one family were killed.

Guterres told the Security Council that he is also extremely concerned about the attack on the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera media offices in Gaza while adding:  ”The status quo at the holy sites must be upheld and respected.” The secretary-general said that his Special Coordinator will brief everyone on the latest developments on the ground and UN efforts to de-escalate the situation. He also reassured all parties that the United Nations “remains deeply committed to working with Israelis and Palestinians and with our international and regional partners, including the Middle East Quartet, to realize a lasting and just peace.” The secretary-general added that he’s in contact with numerous relevant mediators and reiterated that all parties must allow mediation efforts to “intensify and succeed.”  His most crucial point was that both sides must return to negotiations “with the goal of two States, living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, based on relevant UN resolutions, international law and prior agreements.”

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