UN chief calls on Israel to abandon annexation plans

Yoshita Singh

United Nations, Jun 24 (PTI) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called on Israel to abandon its annexation plans, saying if implemented, it would constitute the “most serious violation” of international law, grievously harm the prospect of a two-state solution and undercut possibilities of a renewal of negotiations with Palestine.

Guterres, in a video-teleconference briefing on the situation in the Middle East, said that Israel’s threat to annex parts of the occupied West Bank has alarmed Palestinians, many Israelis and the broader international community.

“We are at a watershed moment,” he said.

The UN chief said that if implemented, the “annexation would constitute a most serious violation of international law, grievously harm the prospect of a two-state solution and undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations”.

He called on the Israeli Government to abandon its annexation plans, adding that the Palestinian leadership has reacted by considering itself absolved of all bilateral agreements with Israel and the United States.

Guterres emphasised that the increased economic fragility as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic reduced donor support, and the recent Palestinian decision to stop accepting clearance revenues that Israel collects on behalf of Palestinian Authority risk increasing the hardship of the Palestinian people.

He reiterated his commitment to continue supporting Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict and end the occupation.

Guterres said that the goal is to achieve the vision of two states -- Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable Palestinian state -- living side by side in peace and security within secure and recognised borders, based on the pre-1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both the states.

“I will continue to consistently speak out against any unilateral steps that would undermine peace and the chances for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through meaningful negotiations,” he said, adding that such actions further hamper efforts to advance regional peace and to maintain international peace and security.

Urging the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to commit to a meaningful dialogue with the support of the international community, Guterres said that leaders must act wisely and swiftly and demonstrate the will to advance the goal of a just and lasting peace.

He also encouraged the regional and international supporters of the two-state solution to help bring the parties back to a path towards a negotiated, peaceful settlement.

“I call on the fellow members of the Middle East Quartet to take up our mandated mediation role and find a mutually agreeable framework for the parties to re-engage, without preconditions, with us and other key States,” the UN chief added. PTI YAS CPS