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UN warns of risk of escalation in Palestine

Greater Middle East (, - The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Thor Vennesland, has warned that Palestinian-Israeli relations have once again reached a "boiling point". This was reported by the news portal Asharq Al-Awsat on November 29. He stressed that the expansion of Jewish settlements and restrictions continue to shrink "the economic and physical space for the development of a viable Palestinian society."

He warned that the current state of affairs was leading to the disappearance of the principles underlying the Oslo Accords, including the two-state solution. Wennesland briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East and noted that after decades of incessant violence, illegal settlement expansion, ineffective negotiations, "the conflict is once again reaching a boiling point."

He pointed out that the "high level" of violence in the occupied West Bank and Israel in recent months, including attacks on Israeli and Palestinian civilians, increased use of weapons, and settler violence, "has caused severe human suffering." He condemned the recent bombings in Jerusalem that killed two Israelis and called for a "clear renunciation of such acts of terrorism" and an attack by Israeli settlers on Palestinians in Hebron that could aggravate an already tense situation.

The official said that all parties are responsible for acting against extremists and for speaking out against such acts of violence and incitement. Wennesland noted that the "fragile calm" was recently interrupted by the firing of four rockets into Israel by Palestinian militants and subsequent Israeli airstrikes on targets he said were targets of the Hamas movement: "Once again, we are being reminded that the combination of militant activity, grueling shutdowns, the absence of a legitimate Palestinian government and hopelessness poses a constant risk of escalation... My team and I have visited areas of severe violence in recent weeks, and I continue to engage in discussions with a number of Palestinian and Israeli officials, as well as with international and regional actors, to address the dangerous dynamics."

A UN spokesman warned that demographics are moving faster than politics: "In a few years, exponential population growth in the West Bank and Gaza will make managing the economic, political and security situation increasingly difficult, if not impossible." Moreover, he warned that the principles underlying the Oslo Accords were "eluding," noting that "political leadership is needed to change the trajectory towards a two-state solution."

Earlier, Israeli politician Itamar Ben-Gvir said he would work in a new right-wing government to change Al-Aqsa's status quo and rules for firing on Palestinians, calling the current directives "stupid" because they make Israeli soldiers and police vulnerable.

UN warns of risk of escalation in Palestine