Published: 10:14, May 21, 2024 | Updated: 10:21, May 21, 2024
UN Mideast envoy calls for resumption of Israel-Hamas talks
By Xinhua
Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland speaks about 2024 priorities to the General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City on Feb 7, 2024. (PHOTO / AFP)

UNITED NATIONS / ATHENS - UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland on Monday called for the resumption of negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

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"I urge the parties to redouble all efforts and return to the negotiating table immediately and in good faith," Wennesland told the UN Security Council.

Wennesland reiterated the United Nations' full support to the mediators and its willingness to support the implementation of a deal between Israel and Hamas

"If talks do not resume, I fear for the worst for the beleaguered and terrified civilians in Rafah, for the hostages held in unimaginable conditions for more than 225 days, and for an overstretched humanitarian operation that remains on the brink inside the (Gaza) Strip," he said.

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Just two weeks ago negotiations were taking place in Cairo with the support of Egypt, Qatar and the United States. However, those talks ended on May 9 without agreement, he noted.

"Regrettably we face yet another precipice of further catastrophe in Gaza amid stalled talks between the parties to secure the release of all hostages held in Gaza and a cease-fire to provide much-needed relief to the civilian population," he said.

Wennesland reiterated the United Nations' full support to the mediators and its willingness to support the implementation of a deal between Israel and Hamas.

Since the first week of May, the security situation in Rafah has been rapidly worsening as the Israeli military operations and maneuvers in and around Rafah intensified, said Wennesland.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, alongside numerous international partners and concerned neighbors, has voiced serious objection to a military operation in Rafah amid clear indications of its devastating consequences for the civilian population, he said.

"Saving lives and addressing the critical needs in Rafah and Gaza more broadly must remain our immediate priority. I reiterate the secretary-general's call for a humanitarian cease-fire," he said. "At the same time, we must not lose sight of the risks that these immediate threats pose to prospects for a resolution to this conflict and for longer-term peace and stability in the region."

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He voiced concern that the failure to reach a cease-fire in Gaza and a large-scale military operation in Rafah exacerbates the risk of escalating regional tensions. He reiterated that there can be no long-term solution in Gaza that is not fundamentally political.

Palestinians mourn in an ambulance next to bodies of relatives killed in overnight Israeli bombardment in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah in southern Gaza on May 20, 2024. (PHOTO / AFP)

The devastation and misery of the past seven months have reinforced a simple truth. Palestinians and Israelis can no longer wait to establish a viable political horizon to end the conflict and establish a two-state solution, he said. "Day after day we are witnessing the deadly consequences of inaction. Now is the time to lay the foundations for a better future for Palestinians, Israelis and the broader region."

Greece calls for two-state solution

Greek Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis on Monday urged the international community to promote the two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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During his meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Athens, Gerapetritis urged for enhanced joint efforts to halt the hostilities, release hostages and secure the flow of humanitarian aid without hindrance to the Gaza people in need, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

Thanking Egypt for its mediation efforts for a ceasefire agreement, Gerapetritis voiced his opposition to a spread of hostilities in Rafah in southern Gaza while reiterating that Greece advocated for a lasting peace through a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.