New York, 28 September 2023 (TDI): During his Security Council briefing on the Middle East situation, Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland emphasized significant developments from 15 June to 19 September, as detailed in the 27th report of the Secretary-General regarding Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) implementation.

Wennesland began by addressing the ongoing settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, despite the resolution’s call for Israel to cease such activities.

He noted the advancement of plans for 6,300 housing units in Area C, as well as the retroactive “legalization” of outposts. Additionally, approximately 3,580 housing units were advanced in East Jerusalem, with a plan for 3,500 more in September.

The Special Coordinator expressed concerns over demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures, often citing the lack of Israeli-issued building permits that are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain.

This resulted in the demolition or seizure of 238 structures and the displacement of 183 people. Wennesland pointed out the alarming trend of Palestinians leaving their communities due to violence by settlers and shrinking grazing land.

He noted that Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) calls for preventing acts of violence against civilians, but daily violence, including fatalities and injuries on both sides, persisted.

The report highlighted incidents of settler-related violence and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, resulting in casualties and fatalities.

The Israeli Supreme Court’s dismissal of a petition to dismantle an outpost in the West Bank was also noted. The Special Coordinator underscored the importance of refraining from acts of provocation, incitement & inflammatory rhetoric.

He cited statements from Israeli and Palestinian officials that raised tensions. Wennesland provided an overview of diplomatic efforts during the reporting period, including Saudi Arabia appointing an Ambassador to the State of Palestine and a Consul General in Jerusalem for the first time since 1947.

He mentioned meetings between regional leaders emphasizing the need for Israel to halt settlement activity and work towards a just and comprehensive solution.

The report acknowledged some positive steps, such as the reduction of handling fees for fuel transferred to the Palestinian Authority and efforts to prevent its collapse.

It also mentioned that the President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas decreed to remove certain PA Governors from office and called for elections in Gaza under Central Elections Commission supervision.

However, the Special Coordinator emphasized the need for collective efforts to reverse negative trends on the ground, as outlined in Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016).

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He expressed deep concern over the expansion of settlements, demolitions, violence, and incitement. Ergo, Wennesland called for immediate steps to de-escalate tensions and ensure the protection of civilians, especially children.

He urged Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and emphasized that only sustainable political solutions would bring hope to the region.

The Special Coordinator reaffirmed the commitment to a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the shared capital, and called for support for UNRWA and WFP to provide essential services to Palestinians.