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UN chief expresses alarm of 'one-state reality' between Israel and Palestine

Antonio Guterres says 'there is no Plan B' and that peace is dependent on two-state solution
UN chief says global consensus on settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 'could be eroding' (Reuters)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that recent developments in the Middle East could create "an irreversible one-state reality" that would bury the two-state solution of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

"Negative trends on the ground have the potential to create an irreversible one-state reality that is incompatible with realising the legitimate national, historic, and democratic aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians," Guterres told a UN meeting of a committee on Palestinian rights.

The UN chief said the global consensus on settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "could be eroding, making effective concerted action more difficult to achieve, at a time when it is more important than ever".

The Middle East peace process was upended when US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital, ignoring the international consensus view that the status of the Holy City would be decided in peace negotiations.

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The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution last month rejecting the US decision by a vote of 128 to nine with 35 abstentions. 

The United States has also cut back its funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), prompting Guterres to appeal to countries to step in to fill the gap.

Israel's ongoing construction of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian territories, violent attacks and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza are dimming prospects for a long-term peace, said the UN chief.

"There is no Plan B," Guterres told the meeting. "A two-state solution is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and secure a sustainable solution to the conflict."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to address the UN Security Council later this month after US ambassador Nikki Haley said he lacked the courage needed for a peace deal. 

Meanwhile, King Abdullah II of Jordan said in an interview aired on Sunday that the United States remains essential to any hope of a peaceful solution between Israel and the Palestinians, in spite of widespread criticism of the new US stance on Jerusalem. 

"We cannot have a peace process or a peace solution without the role of the United States," the monarch said on the CNN programme Fareed Zakaria GPS, in an interview taped at the recent economic summit in Davos, Switzerland.

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