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UN: Two-state solution will 'deteriorate further' if Palestinians continue to be ignored

UN deputy special coordinator Lynn Hastings tells Security Council that Israel's illegal settlement expansion is hindering possibility of viable, Palestinian state
Israeli forces remove a demonstrator during a demonstration on 1 July 2022, in Masafer Yatta area in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Israeli forces remove a demonstrator during a demonstration in the area of Masafer Yatta in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on 1 July 2022 (AFP)

A senior official at the United Nations has warned the Security Council that if Palestinians face a "growing sense of hopelessness" and if it continues to be ignored, the prospects of a two-state solution with a viable Palestinian state would "deteriorate further".

Lynn Hastings, UN deputy special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, addressed the Security Council on Tuesday, stating that there needs to be "immediate steps to reverse negative trends and support the Palestinian people".

"There is no substitute for a legitimate political process that will resolve the core issues driving the conflict. We must focus on reaching the ultimate goal: two states living side-by-side in peace and security, in line with UN resolutions, previous agreements, and international law," she said.

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"As the history of this conflict has so painfully demonstrated, if left unaddressed, the factors contributing to this corrosive situation will only deteriorate further."

One of the key issues is that Israel is continuing to expand on the creation of settlements in occupied territories in the West Bank. Nearly 700,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel illegally occupied during the 1967 war.

"For years, illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has been steadily shrinking the land available to Palestinians for development and livelihood, limiting their movement and access and eroding the prospects for establishing a viable Palestinian state," Hastings said.

Hastings, who also serves as the humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian Territories, also pointed to the nearly 400 demolitions of Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank this year that have left more than 400 Palestinians displaced.

Israel has demolished hundreds of Palestinian homes as part of this policy since the occupation of the West Bank in 1967. According to the Israeli human rights group Btselem, the demolitions tied to the families of suspected attackers is a form of collective punishment.

Hastings also cited a lack of Israeli-issued building permits for Palestinians, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain. Between 2016 and 2018, Israel's civil administration received 1,485 building applications from Palestinians for Area C of the occupied West Bank, and approved only 21 of them - a greenlighting rate of only 1.4 percent.

The UN official's remarks come after a near month-long reporting period from 27 June to 21 July.

She also noted the issue of violence from Israeli settlers and that three Palestinians were killed during the UN's reporting period.

US President Joe Biden visited Israel and the occupied West Bank earlier this month and met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The US president also reiterated support for the two-state solution during the visit.

Hastings welcomed the commitment from Biden, however, many Palestinian advocates have criticised the administration for offering no concrete outlines for how such a solution could be implemented.

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