UN Says Will Engage With Netanyahu on 'Realistic Options' for Return to Peace Talks

UN Middle East envoy tells Security Council that Gaza is 'desperate and angry' over devastation following summer's 50-day war.

Michelle Nichols
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Wreckage in Gaza.
Wreckage in Gaza.Credit: Anne Paq / Activestills
Michelle Nichols

REUTERS - The United Nations Middle East envoy warned on Tuesday that the people of the Gaza Strip are desperate and angry about their plight and that it is up to Israel and Palestinian authorities to prevent an implosion of the Mediterranean enclave.

In a briefing to the UN Security Council, Nickolay Mladenov described his shock at the devastation in Gaza after last year's 50-day war between Hamas militants and Israel.

He said the area's people were angry at everyone - including Israel for its blockade, Egypt for the closure of its Rafah border crossing, Hamas for imposing a "solidarity tax" and the international community for not honoring reconstruction pledges.

"There is a clear moral and humanitarian imperative not just for the United Nations and the international community, but primarily for the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to prevent the implosion of Gaza," Mladenov said.
"Gaza is desperate and angry," he said of the enclave, home to 1.8 million Palestinians.

Mladenov said he and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would engage with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government to explore "realistic options" for a return to peace talks on a two-state solution "within a reasonable timeframe."

Netanyahu took a stand against Palestinian statehood during his election campaign. Palestinians seek a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967.

Mladenov urged Israel to freeze settlements. The United Nations and most countries consider settlements that Israel has built on territory captured in 1967 as illegal.

"There should be no illusions about the impact of these unilateral actions," Mladenov said.

"They not only undermine the collective hopes of those longing for a just resolution of the conflict, but they again call into question the viability of achieving peace based on the vision of two states," he said.

Netanyahu has pledged to continue building settlements, citing historical and biblical links to the occupied territories.

Mladenov also called for Palestinian unity between Gaza - controlled by Islamist movement Hamas since 2007 - and the West Bank - where Fatah, the more secular, Western-backed party runs the Palestinian administration.

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