Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki (front), addresses a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, at the UN headquarters in New York, Sept. 20, 2019. UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov on Friday deplored the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, as well as continued violence in Gaza. The expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, continued unabated in the past three months, Mladenov told the UN Security Council. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov on Friday deplored the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, as well as continued violence in Gaza.
The expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, continued unabated in the past three months, Mladenov told the UN Security Council.
"The expansion of settlements has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law. It must cease immediately and completely," he said.
The existence and expansion of settlements fuel anger and disillusionment among the Palestinian population and significantly undermine the prospects for establishing a contiguous and viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the future capital of both Israel and Palestine, Mladenov said.
"I reiterate the (UN) secretary-general's concern over statements regarding the annexation of the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea as a first step to applying Israeli sovereignty over all settlements and other areas in the occupied West Bank," he said.
"Such steps, if implemented, would constitute a serious violation of international law. They would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations and regional peace, while severely undermining the viability of the two-state solution," he added.
The situation in Gaza remains very volatile, said Mladenov. "It is shameful and intolerable that people, including children, continue to be killed and injured during demonstrations or by indiscriminate rocket attacks, or other hostile acts."
Israeli security forces have the responsibility to exercise maximum restraint and shall only use intentional lethal force when strictly necessary, as a last resort, and in response to an imminent threat of death or serious injury, in accordance with international law. Children should never be the target of attacks nor should they be exposed to violence, he said.
The launching of rockets and mortars toward Israeli civilian populations is prohibited by international humanitarian law and Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad must cease this practice immediately, he said.
"I unequivocally condemn all attacks on Palestinian and Israeli civilians, including settler-related violence, and call on all sides to refrain from violence and to clearly and unequivocally condemn attacks when they occur. All perpetrators must be held accountable for their crimes," he said.
Mladenov also expressed concern over the deteriorating humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza.
He called for the easing of restrictions on the movement and access of goods and people, with the goal of ultimately lifting them, and for reuniting Gaza and the West Bank under a single, legitimate Palestinian national authority.
"I reiterate the call on all Palestinian factions to actively engage with Egypt on reconciliation. Despite the challenges, it is critical that these efforts continue," he stressed.
"The United Nations remains steadfast in its support of Egypt's efforts in this regard, and all Palestinian factions must take concrete steps to ensure the reunification of Gaza and the West Bank. Gaza is, and must remain, an integral part of a future Palestinian state as part of the two-state solution," he added.