UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday that recent developments in the Middle East could create “an irreversible one-state reality” that would bury the two-state solution of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
“Negative trends on the ground have the potential to create an irreversible one-state reality that is incompatible with realizing the legitimate national, historic and democratic aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians,” Guterres told a UN meeting of a committee on Palestinian rights.
The UN chief said the global consensus on settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “could be eroding, making effective concerted action more difficult to achieve, at a time when it is more important than ever.”
US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has thrown the Middle East peace process into doubt, with the Palestinians angrily refusing to engage Washington in a nascent effort to put together a peace proposal.
In an address on December 6, 2017, from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.
The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.
The General Assembly adopted a resolution last month rejecting the US decision by a vote of 128 to nine with 35 abstentions.
The United States has also cut back its funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), prompting Guterres to appeal to countries to step in to fill the gap.
Israel’s ongoing construction of settlements in the Palestinian territories, violent attacks and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza are dimming prospects for a long-term peace, said the UN chief.
“There is no Plan B,” Guterres told the meeting. “A two-state solution is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and secure a sustainable solution to the conflict.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is due to address the UN Security Council later this month after US Ambassador Nikki Haley said he lacked the courage needed for a peace deal.