The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said Sunday that a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians could not be achieved amid the glorification of terror among Palestinians and continued Israeli settlement activity.
In a statement Sunday, two days after the release of a Quartet report slamming settlement construction and Palestinian incitement, Mladenov said Palestinians and Israelis have “reached a point where many on both sides have lost faith in the other’s commitment to a future of two states living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition.”
“At the end of the day, the sad reality for peoples on both sides of the conflict is that the things which they hold most dear – statehood and security – are slipping further away,” he said.
In a strong repudiation of Palestinian incitement, which Israel has repeatedly blamed for a wave of Palestinian attacks since October last year, Mladenov said that “a peaceful future for both peoples cannot emerge on the back of statements that glorify terror and justify killing; mutual respect cannot come as a result of stabbings, shootings and car-rammings.”
“Heroes do not kill sleeping children,” he added in reference to the brutal stabbing by a Palestinian terrorist of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel on Thursday while she slept in her bedroom in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba. The assailant, Muhammad Tarayneh, 17, was shot and killed by guards responding to the attack.
The terrorist’s family has hailed his actions, calling him a hero and the Hebron governor has paid a condolence visit to the family. The Palestinian Authority has largely remained silent, with President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly refusing to take calls from world leaders who have wanted him to speak out against the murder of the Israeli teen, as well as a Friday shooting attack that claimed the life of Otniel yeshiva head Miki Mark, and injured his family.
Mladenov urges Israelis and Palestinians to heed the call of the report which “sounds an alarm bell that we are on a dangerous slope towards a one state reality that is incompatible with the national aspirations of both peoples.”
“The international community stands ready to engage both with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the implementation of the report’s recommendations,” he added.
The Quartet report said that “Israel should cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and denying Palestinian development” — a charge Israel has rejected. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response that the report only “perpetuates the myth that Israeli construction in the West Bank is an obstacle to peace.”
The report also addressed the Palestinian wave of violence and terrorism, resulting since October in the deaths of at least 214 Palestinians, 34 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese. Israel says more than two-thirds of the Palestinians killed died in the act of attacking Israelis.
Denouncing Palestinian incitement, it said, “Many widely circulated images depict individuals committing terrorist acts with slogans encouraging violence.” Incitement to violence on social media, affecting especially young people, has increased since October 2015 (coinciding with the ongoing wave of Palestinian terrorism; RA), and is particularly affecting the youth, the Quartet further established. The text noted that Hamas and “other radical factions” are behind the worst examples of incitement. “These groups use media outlets to glorify terrorism and openly call for violence against Jews, including instructing viewers on how to carry out stabbings.” But it also fingered some “members of Fatah,” the party of Abbas, for having “publicly supported attacks and their perpetrators, as well as encouraged violent confrontation.”
The Quartet report angered the Palestinians who claimed they were disappointed that both sides were criticized rather than just Israel.
“It does not meet our expectations as a nation living under a foreign colonial military occupation,” Saeb Erekat said in an initial Palestinian reaction. He criticized its attempt “to equalize the responsibilities between a people under occupation and a foreign military occupier. ”
Among the recommendations outlined in the report, the Quartet urged Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza and called for restoring Palestinian Authority control over the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Israel maintains the blockade to prevent terror group Hamas from importing weaponry into Gaza for use against Israel.