UN calls on Israel to immediately halt all settlement activity in oPt

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an end to Israel's settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), saying that it is an obstacle to achieving peace.

Guterres said at this year's opening session of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People that the UN remains committed to supporting Palestinians and Israelis to resolve their conflict and bringing an end to the suffering.

"I reiterate my call on the government of Israel to immediately halt all settlement activity, which is a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution, and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace," he underlined.

Guterres added that persistent acts of violence in oPt as well as Israeli movement and access restrictions and other violations of international humanitarian and human rights law exacerbate mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians and make peace less attainable.

The UN chief reiterated that the core duty of the Committee is "to end the occupation and realize a two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, in line with international law, relevant United Nations resolutions, and bilateral agreements, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States."

In addition, he welcomed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' call for an international peace conference under the auspices of the United Nations and an expanded Middle East Quartet, pointing out that the call provides a positive opportunity to advance peace in the region. "I call on the parties to refrain from unilateral acts that can jeopardize the possibility of restarting the peace process."

Guterres also welcomed the presidential decree issued by Abbas to hold legislative, presidential, and Palestinian National Council elections this year.

The holding of elections in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in Gaza will be a crucial step toward Palestinian unity. It will give renewed legitimacy to national institutions, including a democratically elected parliament and government in Palestine, he said. "Elections are a vital part of building a democratic Palestinian state founded on the rule of law with equal rights for all. The committee's support to these efforts will be crucial."

Guterres also commended the committee's efforts to mobilize support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in a way that is sustainable, predictable, and long-term as Palestinian refugees need and deserve.

Source : Safa