Ending Israeli-Palestinian security coordination “final nail in the coffin” – Serry
NEW YORK: There is a genuine possibility that ending Palestinian security coordination with Israel may be the final nail in the coffin of the Oslo Accords, said Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry today.
However, there is still time for parties to end the cycle of counterproductive action and counteraction, Serry stressed before the Security Council at his last briefing in his capacity as Special Coordinator.
Serry said that earlier this month the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Central Council adopted a series of decisions, including “to suspend all forms of security coordination given Israel’s systematic and ongoing noncompliance with its obligations under signed agreements.” While noting that in three months’ time the PLO Executive Committee will report back on the implementation of this decision, to date security coordination is continuing, he added.
“This move may have far-reaching consequences and, along with the Palestinian accession to the International Criminal Court effective 1 April,” Serry noted, and expressed that it is yet another powerful sign of Palestinian determination not to return to the status quo.
With the third month of Israel’s withholding of Palestinian tax revenues, now amounting to over USD 400 million dollars, the Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis is deepening, he confirmed.
Serry then expressed concern that despite the announcement of an austerity budget for 2015, this temporary bandaid may not allow the Palestinian Authority to survive.
Israel’s action is in violation of the Paris Protocol of the Oslo Accords, he said. “We, again, call on Israel to immediately reverse this decision,” Serry added.
To seek to prevent yet another descent into conflict, Serry publicly called for a new strategy prioritizing Gaza. By this, he do not mean “Gaza only.” “Neither I nor the United Nations would ever support a strategy that would seek to divide Gaza from the West Bank,” he said. Focusing support to Gaza must be inextricably linked to addressing the wider peace process, he added. “Prioritizing Gaza” he noted, means that “we” recognize that “we” cannot possibly hope to pick up the pieces of a shattered Israel-Palestinian peace strategy, leaving Gaza as it is. It means that Gaza must be fixed- or at least stabilized, so that it is not reconstructed one more time only to see it destroyed again. Such cycle halt peace efforts which aim to reach the long desired two-state vision: Israel living side-by-side in peace and security with one single, unified State of Palestine, he said.
Furthermore, Serry set out four objectives to be urgently achieved in definition of “Prioritizing Gaza.” First, the need of a more stable ceasefire under the umbrella of the Government of National Consensus. Second, “hudna” can only be sustainable, he said, if Palestinians move towards a real reconciliation, yet this has not happened yet. All Gaza crossings, he stressed, need to be opened further to support the free movement of people and goods, including to reconnect the Strip and the West Bank and to enable exports. Lastly, Serry said the international community must be prepared to fully support the Government of National Consensus, both politically and financially.
Concluding his briefing, Serry said that peace is first and foremost the responsibility of the parties to the conflict, but that reality cannot absolve international institutions of their responsibilities. For its part, the Quartet has largely failed to live up to expectations, he confirmed.
After congratulating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party on winning the highest number of seats in the recent elections, Serry expressed his concern about many of the hardline statements put forward in the final days of campaigning, in particular remarks by the Prime Minister raising serious doubts about Israel’s commitment to the two-state solution. He then urged the incoming Israeli government to seize the opportunity of a fresh mandate to quickly demonstrate in words and, more importantly by actions, this commitment.
Nickolay Mladenov of Bulgaria to succeed Serry as Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Secretary General’s Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority.