UN Envoy: Only peace can end Israeli-Palestinian violence

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The top UN envoy to the Middle East warned Monday that the ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants is “fragile” and “cycles of violence” will only end if an independent Palestinian state stands side by side live with Israel.

Tor Wennesland called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the international community at an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the recent violence to “intensify diplomatic efforts to return to meaningful negotiations on a viable two-state solution.”

An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into effect late Sunday, ending the worst round of violence since an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas last year. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and has fought four wars with Hamas since the group won Gaza’s elections in 2006 and took power from Fatah in 2007. The clashes have taken a chilling toll on the impoverished area’s 2.3 million Palestinian residents.

Israel began the offensive against Islamic Jihad fighters in Gaza last Friday, saying it faces “specific threats” from the militant group. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 46 Palestinians, including 15 children and four women, were killed and 311 injured in the nearly three days of violence, while 70 Israelis were injured, according to the UN envoy.

Wennesland condemned the Palestinians’ indiscriminate rocket fire aimed at populated centers in Israel. He acknowledged Israel’s security concerns but stressed that any use of force must be “proportionate” with “every possible step” taken to avoid civilian casualties.

The UN envoy said the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire “helped prevent the outbreak of a full-scale war” and warned that “any resumption of hostilities will only have devastating consequences for Palestinians and Israelis and make any political progress elusive.” .

Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour said the Palestinian people were “powerless” and called on the Security Council to take action to ensure their protection.

“As the supreme authority responsible for maintaining international peace and security, how many years does it (Israel) have to impose its inhumane blockade over 2 million people (in Gaza), half of them children, before someone says , enough is enough? ,” he asked. “How many more children do we have to bury before someone says enough is enough?”

Mansour said the current situation was “deeply unsustainable” and urged the council “not to wait until the next war or elections” to implement and enforce Security Council resolutions that would provide a two-state solution for the Israeli- support the Palestinian conflict.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council that President Joe Biden, who visited the region in July, reiterated that “the United States remains deeply committed to a two-state solution.”

The United States urged all parties to “refrain from any unilateral steps that would jeopardize progress,” she said.

“We call on all member states to join us in supporting steps that can stabilize the situation on the ground, bring economic benefits to the Palestinian people and revitalize political horizons that meet the needs of Israelis and Palestinians,” said Thomas- Greenfield.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan told the Security Council its military took action “to protect our civilians and defend our country” and conducted the operation “with astounding accuracy and extreme precision,” doing everything possible to minimize civilian casualties to keep as low as possible.

“Because of these extensive and documented precautions, there is no other military, I repeat no other military, that has such a low collateral damage rate,” Erdan told the council.

He stressed that the only reason Gaza is in the current situation is because Hamas and Islamic Jihad have chosen “terror and violence over coexistence and peace.”

“There is no other explanation,” Erdan said. “The only cure for the Gazans is for their leaders to stop crushing Israel and stop investing resources in the terror infrastructure.”

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