UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov has warned that there is a grave risk that the recent developments in the Old City of Jerusalem could become a religious strife engulfing the entire region.
These developments “demonstrated the grave risk of dangerous escalation that exists, a risk of turning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious one and dragging both sides into the vortex of violence with the rest of the region,” Mladenov said, briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, July 25, 2017.
The UN official also stressed the need to launch political talks between the Palestinians and Israelis to agree on a final solution to the conflict.
“We must not lose focus on the need to restore a political perspective, on the need to bring Palestinians and Israelis back into an environment that is conductive to negotiations on a final status arrangement and avoids turning the national Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious one,” he emphasized.
He also condemned Israel’s settlement expansion activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying its settlement construction in occupied territories is illegal under international law and undermines the chances for the establishment of a viable, contiguous, and sovereign Palestinian state.
As for the situation in Gaza, Mladenov called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take steps to end the humanitarian suffering of the population that aggravated following recent punitive measures against Hamas.