UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) — A much-awaited report by the so-called Quartet of Middle East peacemakers should serve as a “wake-up call” to Israel to halt the expansion of settlements and to the Palestinians to renounce violence, the UN envoy to the region said Thursday.
Speaking to the UN Security Council earlier in the day, ahead of the report’s release, Nickolay Mladenov outlined three “negative trends” that he said must be quickly reversed to keep the hope of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal alive.
Violence and incitement, settlements and the Palestinian Authority’s lack of control over the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip “severely undermine hopes for peace,” Mladenov said.
“These negative trends can and must be urgently reversed in order to advance the two-state solution on the ground,” he told the Council.
The 10-page report prepared by the Quartet — the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations — was to be released Friday after several delays.
Its findings and recommendations are to serve as the basis for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that has been comatose since a US initiative collapsed in April 2014.
In an interview with AFP, Mladenov said he hoped the report would prompt both sides and world leaders to take action to revive the peace process.
“Certainly I would hope that this report would serve as a wake-up call,” he said. “We can’t leave this the way it is. We simply can’t.”
There has been growing alarm that ongoing violence and the construction of settlements on land earmarked to be part of a future Palestinian state are killing off prospects for a peace deal.
Time for action
Mladenov, a Bulgarian diplomat who has served as the UN’s Middle East coordinator since 2015, said both the Israelis and the Palestinians will receive recommendations on steps they can take to address all three tracks — violence, settlements and the rule of the Hamas terror group in Gaza.
“Certainly we want action, on all fronts,” said Mladenov.
“These are parallel trends that are happening as we speak and they are all in of themselves causes of trouble.”
The report “will not be a score card for assigning blame,” but rather the consensus view of the Quartet powers on what needs to be done to revive prospects for a two-state solution, he said.
As the Council discussed the new peace plan, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed and killed a 13-year-old girl as she slept in her bed in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba. The State Department confirmed she was a US citizen. Hours later, two Israelis were wounded in a stabbing attack in Netanya.
Mladenov declined to say how long it might take to relaunch peace talks, but he argued that a return to negotiations was the only course of action.
“Endless occupation is a recipe for disaster” that will lead to a “perpetual lack of security and violence,” he told AFP.
The UN envoy asked the Security Council to endorse the report recommendations in a move that would turn the document into an internationally-agreed road map for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre said the report could help advance plans for a Paris peace conference on the Middle East later this year.
“The French initiative and the Quartet report mutually reinforce each other and have a common goal to put the peace process back on track,” Delattre said.
France has set up working groups that will draw up a list of incentives for both the Israelis and the Palestinians to come to the table for talks.