UN chief Guterres warns Palestinian Territories facing 'grim realities'
The occupied Palestinian Territories are facing "grim realities" as the possibility of a negotiated peace settlement with Israel remains elusive, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Wednesday.
"I address you today with a deep sense of worry about the grim realities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the diminishing prospects of resolving the conflict, which has been with the United Nations since its very creation," Guterres said in an online meeting to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
The UN chief stressed that conditions for Palestinians have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, while the expansion of Israeli settlements has continued unabated.
"On the ground, the expansion of settlement planning and construction continues, while demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures by Israeli authorities across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, reached the highest documented rate in four years," Guterres said.
"Such actions are contrary to international law and undermine the prospects for the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state. Acts of violence, the constant threat of escalation in Gaza, movement and access restrictions, incitement, and human rights violations persist, keeping the situation highly volatile," he added.
Israel has occupied the West Bank illegally since 1967, and commits widespread abuses against Palestinian civilians, human rights groups say.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in constructions considered illegal under international law.
The Oslo agreement of 1995 divided the occupied West Bank into three: Area A, Area B and Area C.
Area A is under the administrative and security control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Area B's administration is controlled by the PA, with Israel controlling security. Area C is under full administrative and security control of Israel.
Attacks by Israeli settlers on the local Palestinian population in the West Bank are common, added to the stifling conditions of the occupation.