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After 50-year occupation, Israelis and Palestinians are still no closer to peace: UN envoy

New York UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process Nikolay Mladenov said on Tuesday that after over a century of hostilities including 50 years of continued military occupation, Israelis and Palestinians are still no closer to peace.

In his latest monthly briefing to the UN Security Council, Mladenov warned that even as many in the region have lost hope for positive change, the enemies of peace are growing more confident by the day and regional tensions are taking an increasingly perilous turn.

The special envoy reiterated support for the two-state solution in accordance with UN resolutions and called for a halt to Israeli settlement expansion and the establishment of projects, especially in "Area C" in the Palestinian territories. He also called for the implementation of the Middle East Quartet resolutions and extending support for building the institutions of the Palestinian state.

He emphasized the need to maintain support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), as it faces a substantial funding shortfall, referring to the US decision to cut aid to UNRWA.

Mladenov reported on the developments in the occupied Palestinian territories and called for the commitment of non-use of force except in justified cases. He also spoke of the violence affecting both sides, including the killing of seven Palestinians by the Israeli security forces and the stabbing death of an Israeli civilian by a Palestinian in the West Bank.

The UN envoy stated that it was time to break the cycle in Gaza, which has been under the control of Hamas for a decade and which currently is facing what he described as a humanitarian, economic and ecological calamity. He called for Gaza to be returned to the control of the Palestinian Authority, adding that there can be no Palestinian state without Palestinian unity.

Mladenov also urged the international community to continue advocating for substantial Israeli policy changes related to the West Bank, including halting settlement construction there � something the UN considers illegal under international law.

He likewise urged the international community not to give up on support for the moderate Palestinian leadership or on building up the institutions that will increase the chances of success. "Our window of opportunity is closing and, if we do not seize it quickly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be engulfed in the whirlwind of religious radicalization that remains present in the region.

Source: International Islamic News Agency