NEW YORK: The UN Secretary-General has urged Israel to remove restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement.
Antonio Guterres said: “I urge Israel to lift restrictions on the movement of people and goods, which also hamper the efforts of the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies, without naturally jeopardizing legitimate security concerns.”
Guterres was addressing the inaugural meeting of a UN committee focused on Palestinian rights.
Guterres said that two million Palestinians “remain mired in increasing poverty and unemployment, with limited access to adequate health, education, water and electricity.
He said that the Palestinians had endured more than a half-century of occupation and denial of their legitimate right to self-determination. He added that young people see little prospect of a better future.
The UN head also raised the issue of Israel’s continued development of settlements in the occupied West Bank. He said that the settlements were illegal under international law and were encroaching further into the region.
“They deepen the sense of mistrust and undermine the two-State solution,” he said.
Negotiations have long stalled, and the Palestinian leadership is refusing to partake in any new US-mediated talks because of President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in contravention of long-standing underpinnings of the peace efforts.