Lack of peace progress leaves 'dangerous and volatile vacuum' in Israel, Palestine: UN

Lack of peace progress leaves 'dangerous and volatile vacuum' in Israel, Palestine: UN

'We cannot ignore the need to restore a political horizon,' says UN envoy

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - The long-standing impasse in peace talks between Israel and Palestine is exacerbating an already dire situation that is being exploited by extremists, the UN warned Monday.

"The lack of progress towards a political horizon that addresses the core issues driving the conflict has left a dangerous and volatile vacuum filled by extremists on both sides," Tor Wennesland, the UN's special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council.

"While we must urgently focus on addressing most critical issues, and on de-escalating the situation on the ground, we cannot ignore the need to restore a political horizon. The UN remains firmly committed to supporting the parties to achieve an end to the occupation, and the establishment of a two-state solution," he added.

From July 25 through Aug.15, 16 Palestinians, including five children, were killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, according to UN data. Some 59 other Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces, including six women and 37 children, while Israeli settlers and civilians killed one other Palestinian and injured eight more.

During the same period, one member of Israel's security forces was killed, and nine Israelis were injured during attacks conducted by Palestinians.

Over the past month, Wennesland said Israel has destroyed 58 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank under the pretext that they were not built with Israeli-issued permits, which he said, "are nearly impossible for the Palestinians to obtain."

That includes the Aug. 17 demolition of an elementary school in Ein Samia that served roughly 80 students just days before the start of the school year, making it the third such school to be destroyed by Israel during the past year.

Wennesland urged Israel to immediately end its practice of destroying Palestinian-owned properties in the occupied territories, and implement plans to facilitate their ability to legally construct new structures.

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