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Israel-Palestine: Political Solution Only Way To End ‘senseless’ Cycles Of Violence


Only a political solution will end the
“senseless and costly cycles of violence” between
Israelis and Palestinians, UN Middle East envoy Tor
Wennesland said in a briefing to the Security Council on
Thursday.

Ambassadors met in person in New
York as a fragile cessation of hostilities continues to
hold, following 11 days of deadly conflict this month which
engulfed the Occupied Palestinian Territory and several
cities across Israel.

“These recent events have made
clear once again the costs of perpetual conflict and lost
hope”, said
Mr Wennesland, officially the UN Special Coordinator for the
Middle East Peace Process.

He spoke via teleconference
from Jerusalem, and shortly after the UN and partners
announced a
$95 million flash appeal
to support people in Gaza and
the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Political
and humanitarian response

Mr Wennesland stressed the
need for the sides to return to the negotiating table,
though warning against a “business as usual”
approach.

“At the end, it is the lack of the
proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ – of a political
horizon – after decades of conflict, that kills hope and
provides space for those not interested in sustainable
peace. ”, he said.

“Only through negotiations that
end the occupation and create a viable two-State solution,
on the basis of UN resolutions, international law and mutual
agreements, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States,
can we hope to bring a definitive end to these senseless and
costly cycles of violence.”

‘Hell on
Earth’

The latest conflict between Israel and armed
groups in Gaza was among the most intense hostilities
witnessed in years.

Mr Wennesland reported that Hamas
and other militants fired more than 4,000 rockets from Gaza,
a significant number of which were intercepted by Israel’s
air defense system, Iron Dome, while Israel carried out over
1,500 strikes against what it said were militant
targets.

The UN estimates more than 250 Palestinians
were killed, including whole families, with 66 children
among the victims. In Israel, 13 people were killed: nine
civilians, two of them children, as well as three foreigners
and a soldier.

Relentless airstrikes forced some
70,000 people in Gaza to seek refuge in schools run by the
UN agency which assists the Palestinian people,
UNRWA.

Staff who ventured out daily amid the fighting
to help them described the period as “hell on earth”, said
UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini, speaking from its
headquarters in East Jerusalem.

Strengthen UN
agency

Mr. Lazzarini was in Gaza earlier this week.
He said practically everyone he met reported feeling
terrified and traumatized.

“I met parents who, every
night, asked themselves whether to have all their children
sleep near them or to spread them around the house”, he
said. “Should they all die together? Or should they try to
save some by scattering them?”

Mr. Lazzarini stated
that until there is a political solution to the conflict,
only a strong UNRWA can bring “a sense of normality”
into the lives of Palestinians. He underscored the need for
reliable and sufficient funding for its work in delivering
essential services, such as education.

The UN and
partners said at least 57 schools, nine hospitals and 19
primary health care centres were either partially or
completely damaged in the fighting, which occurred as
Gaza’s embattled health system was dealing with the burden
of COVID-19.

Building
back Gaza

The $95 million appeal, launched in
Jerusalem on Thursday, targets one million people over the
next three months, in the areas of protection, health, water
and sanitation, education and food security.

Speaking
to journalists in New York, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for
the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lynn Hastings, noted
that while buildings can be repaired, the concern is over
how repeated conflicts impact the psycho-social well-being
of Gazans, particularly children.

“But while the
immediate needs on the ground have been outlined in the
flash appeal launched today…all of us need to ensure that
we are not repeating the mistakes that keep bringing us back
to having to rebuild Gaza”, she
said

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