A top UN envoy to the Middle East urged a restart to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, but ultimately blamed the Jewish state for “damaging the prospects for peace” through settlement construction in the West Bank.
The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, warned the UN Security Council Thursday that if a Palestinian state isn’t established soon, the risk of “political escalation” may increase.
“Given the region’s massive transformation, it is imperative — perhaps more than ever before — that a permanent settlement be found, based on the concept of two states,” said the freshman envoy, who was appointed to his post in February.
Mladenov noted that support for a Palestinian state coexisting peacefully with Israel “is fading away.” He said the elusive two-state solution is threatened by Israel’s occupation and settlement construction, along with violence, security problems and lack of Palestinian unity.
“Now is the time to act decisively to reverse the growing perception that the two-state solution is on life-support, slowly dying a death by a thousand cuts,” he said.
Mladenov pointed his finger at Israel for the political impasse, accusing it of “damaging the prospects for peace” by approving new Jewish residential units in the West Bank. He also called on Palestinian groups to unite and avoid infighting.
The two sides are further apart today from the goal of achieving peace “than ever” before, he said.
The Bulgarian-born Mladenov served previously as a member of the European Parliament and as a UN envoy to Iraq, before replacing Dutch diplomat Robert Serry as Middle East envoy.
Israeli officials okayed 900 new housing units in the West Bank on Thursday, after a year-long lull in approvals.
Mladenov acknowledged that “settlement expansion had slowed of late.”
The Palestinian Authority, which rules parts of the West Bank, and the Hamas terror group, which rules Gaza, have been at loggerheads since last year’s summer war between Hamas and Israel.