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UN: Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian land have ‘no legal validity’

UNITED NATIONS : UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the establishment of Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories have “no legal validity” and constitute “a flagrant violation” of international law, as he reaffirmed the world body’s pledge to uphold the Palestinian people’s rights.

“Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains one of the most intractable challenges facing the international community,” Guterres said in his message for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which is observed annually on Nov. 29.

“Regrettably,” he said, “over the past year, there have been no positive developments, and the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate.”

Guterres’ message was read out by his chef de cabinet Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti to a meeting held by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to observe the international day.

Established in 1977, it marks the day in 1947 when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution partitioning Palestine into an Arab State and a Jewish State.

The UN chief said the intensification of illegal settlements, demolitions of Palestinian homes and the pervasive suffering in Gaza must stop. “These actions threaten to undermine the viability of establishing a Palestinian state based on relevant United Nations resolutions.”

At the same time, he said, the indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars toward Israeli civilian populations must cease.

The secretary-general called on Israelis and Palestinians, and all their supporters, to take steps that will restore faith in the two-state solution.

“There is no viable alternative,” Guterres said.

He stressed that only constructive negotiations between the parties, in good faith, with the support of the international community and adhering to long-standing UN resolutions and long-agreed parameters “will bring about a just and durable solution, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.”

On her part, Viotti, UN chief’s chef de cabinet, stressed the importance of addressing “the immense” suffering of civilians in Gaza where some two million Palestinians live in poverty and unemployment, with restricted access to healthcare, education and basic services, and impacted daily by Israeli-imposed closures.

She said Palestinians in Gaza have the right to protest peacefully and Israeli security forces have a responsibility to exercise maximum restraint.

Some eight million Palestinians live primarily in territories occupied by Israel and across the Middle East in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his people have endured more than 70 years of tragedies and crises, yet remain steadfast.

“Despite decades of disappointment and setbacks, we remain committed to a multilateral order that respects and ensures respect for international law,” he said in a message read by Palestinian Permanent Observer to the UN, Riyad Mansour.

“The State of Palestine will continue engaging in efforts aimed to advance the rule of international law, including through the building of our national institutions, spreading the culture of peace and empowering our people, especially women and youth.”

The roughly eight million Palestinians live primarily in territory occupied by Israel, but also across the Middle East in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande called for action to ensure critical humanitarian support.

“This must be tackled by strengthening the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), to ensure that it can meet the humanitarian needs of over 5.4 million Palestinian refugees. It is important that we collectively safeguard the Agency against the political and financial challenges it faces,” he said.

Niang Cheikh, chairman of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, maintains hope that the two-State solution will be realized.

“Despite all the contrary winds, this day will come and we will then celebrate the realization of a just peace in the interest of the Palestinians and indeed all the peoples of the region,” he stated.

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