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Palestine issue overtaken by Syrian tragedy - UN.

NEW YORK, Oct 19 (KUNA) -- The international focus on the question of Palestine may have been overtaken by the tragedy in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, but it cannot be allowed to be relegated to a secondary problem, said a UN official on Wednesday. The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, briefed -via video- the Security Council and sadly expressed that settlement announcements, outbreaks of violence and terror, and the absence of visionary leadership continue to define the conflict. "The inability to see beyond the horizon and grasp the benefits of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, of ending the occupation, of establishing a two-state solution that meets the national aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis alike, is a historic loss to the region as a whole," he added. Once again, Mladenov reiterated the UN Secretary General's position that settlements are illegal under international law and undermine the two-state solution. He urged the international community to avoid the risk of sleep-walking into another violent conflict at a time when the region as a whole needs moderate forces to unite and stand up to the radicalization seen across the Middle East. Hamas legislators in Gaza recently called for the Hamas led government to resume its work in Gaza, however the UN official stressed that such step would seriously undermine the Palestinian Government of National Consensus and would also make the reconciliation almost impossible. Therefore, he encouraged Hamas to pursue reconciliation with Fatah in line with the PLO principles and to consider redefining its political stance. On his part, Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien said in the same open debate that poverty and unemployment have driven more than a quarter of all Palestinian households to food insecurity; half a million school children require humanitarian assistance to access quality education; and an estimated 1 million people are in need of humanitarian health and nutrition interventions. Overall, some 2.3 million Palestinians out of a total population of 4.8 million in the occupied Palestinian territory, are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, he said. While there has been an increase in the absolute number of exit permit approvals from Gaza since 2012, O'Brien told the Council that the acceptance rate for exit permits for medical treatment has reached a seven year low. Latest numbers show that of the 2,394 applications made in August only 60 percent are approved, compared to some 76 percent which was the monthly average in 2015. That said, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour reaffirmed his support for the French initiative to mobilize international action for Palestinian-Israeli peace, recognizing the dangers of continuing stalemate and the explosive situation on the ground. "We concur fully with the urgency of a political horizon and the calls for an international peace conference," he told the council under the Russian Presidency. He also reaffirmed his support and cooperation with efforts by the Arab States to advance the Arab Peace Initiative, including in cooperation with the Quartet members, whose efforts of the recent period are also fully recognized, as well as the Russian and Egyptian efforts to promote dialogue and help parties overcome the deadlock. Thus, the Palestinian Ambassador said that they continue to seek Security Council action, consistent with his country's pledge to use all applicable "diplomatic, political and legal" tools to ensure lasting peace and coexistence between Palestine and Israel and mutual security for the peoples. Palestine's current efforts are focused on the Israeli settlement regime, which all recognize as the central pillar of this illegal occupation. (end) mao.mb

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:Oct 20, 2016
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