UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, briefed the Security Council yesterday, on the situation in Palestine, stressing that negative developments have greatly overshadowed any positive steps towards peace.

Mladenov pointed out that the reported developments take place within a concerning overall context: ‘Israel’s continued military occupation of Palestinian territory; uncertainties about the future of the peace process and the two-state solution; Hamas’ continuing hold over Gaza, its militant activity; the persistent threat of war; unilateral actions that undermine peace efforts; reduced donor support for Palestine; and turmoil in the wider region.’

Reporting on the period 13th September to 14th December, Mladenov gave a detailed account of incidents of violence, demonstrations and security operations, noting that during the period, 75 Palestinians and 7 Israelis were killed.

He drew attention to the ongoing illegal activity of the Israeli state, with regard to settlements, reporting that during the period, plans for some 2,200 housing units in settlements, in the West Bank, were advanced or approved by Israeli authorities. Mladenov also highlighted the continuing demolitions and evictions, which have led to the displacement of over 100 Palestinians.

Mladenov reported, according to the PNN, that the period saw a major escalation of violence, in Gaza, which almost brought Hamas and Israel to war, and that the situation in the West Bank has also recently become dangerously volatile.

He reported: ‘Israeli responses to recent events in the West Bank have been harsh as some of the perpetrators of recent attacks have been killed. Unfortunately, incidents, like the shooting of a Palestinian man with psycho-social disabilities, as he was walking away from the security forces, fuel a climate of fear and anger. These actions continue to fuel a climate of hatred and fear and drive Israelis and Palestinians further away from a resolution to the conflict.’

He condemned ongoing violence, provocation and incitement on both sides, as well as the decision by Hamas to sentence 6 citizens to death.

Maldenov also reported that there has been no progress towards unifying Gaza and the West Bank under a single, legitimate national government.

He highlighted his concern regarding ‘the weakening of international consensus and the absence of collective efforts to achieve an end to the occupation and the realization of a negotiated two-state solution’.

He concluded by reaffirming the need for renewed international cooperation and effort in pursuing a two-state solution: ‘It is only by realizing the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition, with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestine, and all final status issues resolved permanently through negotiations, that the legitimate aspirations of both peoples can be achieved.’