UN Calls for 'Two State' Solution to Be Respected in Middle East
The UN Security Council made a rare show of unity Monday when it called on all parties to maintain their support for a two state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
It was the council’s first statement following the unveiling of the US plan for resolving the decades-old struggle three weeks ago. President Donald Trump’s plan sided with Israel on most of the conflict’s main sticking points, and the Palestinians rejected it outright.
"Council Members reiterated their support for a negotiated two state solution ... where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders," said a statement released by Belgium, which holds the rotating presidency, and supported by all 14 other members, including the United States.
The UN statement made no mention of Trump's plan. It also did not directly address Palestinian demands for an independent state including all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem — areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war — and the removal of many of the more than 700,000 Israeli settlers from these areas.
"All parties should refrain from undermining the viability of the two states solution in order to maintain the prospects for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace," the statement added, an allusion to Israel's recent threat to build thousands more homes in East Jerusalem, in an area claimed by the Palestinians.
Security Council resolutions have in the past called for a two-state solution based on 1967 lines, and the UN has repeatedly called Israeli settlements illegal.
The council also "stressed the need to exert collective efforts to launch credible negotiations on all final status issues" and expressed "grave concern about acts of violence against civilians."
The statement came after two days of rising tensions in the region after the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad fired rockets at Israel, following the killing of three of its members in the Gaza Strip and Syria.
Belgium’s UN Ambassador Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve read the statement after UN special coordinator for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov briefed the council at an open meeting. Members then held closed consultations.
Mladenov called for “an immediate stop to the firing of rockets and mortars that only risk dragging Gaza into another round of hostilities with no end in sight.”
On the political front, he said that with no Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the horizon, “developments on the ground continued to undermine prospects for a two-state solution.”
Mladenov pointed to Israeli demolitions and seizures of Palestinian structures, Israeli approvals for new housing in settlements and the threat of Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank.
He reiterated Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ statement that possible annexation or similar moves “would have a devastating impact on the prospect for a two-state solution.”
“They would close the door to negotiations, have negative repercussions across the region, and severely undermine opportunities for normalization and regional peace,” Mladenov warned.