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UN official: prospects for sustainable Mideast peace are fading.

NEW YORK, Feb 20 (KUNA) -- UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General Nickolay Mladenov has warned that prospects for sustainable peace are fading by the day as the specter of violence and radicalism grows. Current efforts are focused on preventing an economic implosion in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and on preserving the slim hope that Israelis and Palestinians will one day live side by side, each in their own State, he said in a briefing to the UN Security Council via video-teleconference from Jerusalem Wednesday. He made it clear that the viability of a two-State solution is being eroded, with extremists on the rise again and the risk of war looming large. He called for leadership that believes in the possibility of peace through negotiations, and for the international community's recognition that the Palestinians need its support more than ever. Mladenov stressed that unilateral measures, the ongoing violence, financial pressures and the lack of progress towards peace are exacting a heavy toll. He went on to note that the Palestinian Authority had a budget deficit of USD 1.04 billion in 2018 and is expected to increase in 2019. The UN official recalled that the Government of Israel unilaterally decided this week to withhold the transfer of USD 140 million in Palestinian tax revenues. "These are serious developments that put at risk the financial stability of the Palestinian Authority and ultimately the security of both Israelis and Palestinians," he cautioned. The recent halt in United States assistance to Palestinians may also impact efforts to bridge divisions, he warned. He also expressed regret over Israel's decision not to renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), established pursuant to the provisions of the Oslo II Accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). He argued that despite Egypt's concerted efforts to bring Palestinian factions together, their recent political moves could further widen the divide between the West Bank and Gaza. Underlining that elections throughout the occupied Palestinian territory that meet international democratic standards may be the only way out of the impasse, he said. He urged the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to recommit to the principles and vision enshrined a quarter of a century ago in United Nations resolutions and bilateral agreements. Steps to support the Palestinian Authority's stability must be matched by political moves, including an end to settlement construction, Mladenov suggested. (end) asf.ibi

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Feb 21, 2019
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