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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

UN chief warns of 'one-state reality' in Middle East

Peace process was upended when US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital

Palestinians walk outside the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old City in Al Aqsa mosque compound on January 23, 2018. Ahmad Gharabli /  AFP PHOTO
Palestinians walk outside the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old City in Al Aqsa mosque compound on January 23, 2018. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP PHOTO

United Nations 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 Palestine 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," Mr 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 internationally-held view that the status of the holy city would be decided in peace negotiations.

The 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 cut funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), prompting Mr Guterres to appeal to countries to fill the gap.

Israel's 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'," Mr 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 Security Council later this month after US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said he lacked the courage needed for a peace deal.

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