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UN Official Warns of Israeli-Palestinian ‘Downward Spiral’

  • Margaret Besheer

A senior United Nations official warned Thursday that Israeli and Palestinian leaders are engaged in a “downward spiral,” making the quick resumption of peace talks unlikely.

U.N. Deputy Political Chief Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen told the Security Council that the decades-old conflict was now entering uncharted territory as the parties become increasingly antagonistic towards each other.

“We should be under no illusions about the perils that this new chapter may entail,” he said.

At the end of December, an Arab-sponsored draft resolution setting a timetable for the end of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands failed to pass the U.N. Security Council. Since then, the Palestinian Authority has joined 16 conventions and treaties, including signing papers to join the International Criminal Court, where it has said it will press for prosecution of alleged Israeli war crimes on Palestinian territory. In response, Israel froze nearly $130 million in tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA.

Toyberg-Frandzen also said that donors have “largely failed” to fulfill their pledges of over $5 billion for rebuilding the Gaza Strip following last summer’s war, severely limiting recovery and reconstruction.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power announced that the envoys of the Middle East Quartet would meet at the end of January. The group is made up of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia and has been largely inactive for more than a year.

A U.N. spokesman said the meeting was scheduled for January 26 in Brussels.

Power also reiterated Washington’s disapproval of the Palestinian move to join the ICC.

“Palestinian efforts to join the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and to accede to a number of international treaties are counter-productive and will not advance the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state,” she said.

Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour defended his government’s action to join the court and other treaties, saying they were “legal, peaceful steps” and that it was not logical to threaten and punish the Palestinians for seeking their human rights.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor dismissed the failed Palestinian bid to pursue a Security Council resolution, saying they were looking for “shortcuts and quick fixes where none exist” and blaming the Palestinians for not wanting to negotiate a proper peace deal.

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