Tractor in settlement 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
NEW YORK – In a briefing to the Security Council at its meeting Tuesday morning
on the Middle East, a senior United Nations official called on Israel to
continue the partial moratorium on settlement construction beyond September 26
and to extend it to all settlement activity, as well as to construction in east
“We are nearing a turning point in the efforts to promote
direct negotiations,” Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar
Fernandez- Taranco told the Security Council, in his briefing on the situation
in the Middle East.
UN: Aid convoys to Gaza don't help
He characterized a continued settlement freeze as a
move which would further establish “an enabling climate on the
“We urge them to be forthcoming in their deliberations and are
hopeful that leaders on both sides will seize this opportunity and engage in a
path of decisive progress towards a sustainable, mutually acceptable two-state
solution, within a realistic timeframe,” Fernandez-Taranco
Fernandez-Taranco’s briefing summarized recent activity in Israel,
Gaza and the West Bank.
After noting an increase in demolition or
dismantlement of Palestinianowned structures, as well as Israeli incursions into
the West Bank, Fernandez- Taranco discussed internal politics within the
Fernandez-Taranco told the Security Council that
an August 15 report from the Palestinian Authority indicated progress on the
government’s two-year state building agenda, but that “without significant
additional external financing, the Palestinian Authority will face a serious
liquidity crisis in September and will have difficulty paying August
Projecting that the financing deficit will soon exceed $300
million, Fernandez- Taranco called on donors to “reaffirm their support” in
order to reinforce stability in the government.
characterized the “comparative restraint of the past few months” in Jerusalem as
“eroding” with the announcement of construction, demolitions and evictions,
including the authorization of construction of 40 homes in Pisgat
Fernandez-Taranco noted that the volume and variety of supplies
entering Gaza continues to increase, with a weekly average of over one thousand
truckloads of imports, but that imports into Gaza remain below the weekly
average of truckloads before the closure was initiated in 2007.
current extent of easing cannot meet the crucial longer-term construction and
rehabilitation needs of Gazans, and resuscitate the legitimate economy,”
Fernandez-Taranco said, reiterating the call of the Quartet to find a
comprehensive solution ensuring unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid while not
compromising Israeli security.
Fernandez-Taranco recommended streamlining
Israeli procedures to approve and admit materials for construction of 11 United
Nations projects in Gaza, noting that UNRWA is currently running an $84m.
deficit that “could soon force it to shut schools and clinics in the Gaza
August 4 marked the 1,500th day since the capture of Israeli
soldier Gilad Schalit, Fernandez-Taranco said.
“We very much regret that
international calls for his release, immediate humanitarian access, and
completion of a prisoner exchange agreement have not been heeded,” he
Fernandez-Taranco remarked on rockets and mortars fired from Gaza
into Israel that the UN continues “to condemn rocket fire, which
indiscriminately targets civilians.”
Discussing the recently formed panel
of inquiry into the May 31 flotilla events, Fernandez-Taranco noted that the
panel “is not designed to determine individual criminal responsibility” and that
the panel will provide the secretary-general with an interim report on September
15. A UNIFIL investigation is under way as to the August 3 exchange of fire
between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the IDF, Fernandez-Taranco said, and the
Security Council will be briefed on its conclusions when they are
Concluding his remarks, Fernandez- Taranco said that “direct and
meaningful negotiations are the only avenue towards a comprehensive, sustainable
solution that fulfills the aspirations of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples,”
and that the United Nations “stands ready” to provide support for this
Fernandez-Taranco’s half-hour briefing was the only open-door
component of the Security Council’s meeting, which subsequently continued for
two hours behind closed doors.