Security Council, International Community Still Doing Too Little to Steer Israeli-Palestinian Conflict into ‘Calmer Waters’, Briefer Says Amid Heightened Tensions
Special Representative Outlines Recent Developments, Including Israel’s Designation of Palestinian Non-Governmental Groups as Terrorist Entities
To break the deadlock over the long-standing Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the international community must focus less on political paradigms and more on what is happening on the ground, the representative of a leading think tank told the Security Council today, as members expressed grave concerns over rising tensions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Comfort Ero, Interim Vice President and Programme Director of the International Crisis Group, said the 15-member Council and the global community more broadly have done “too little to steer this tragic conflict into calmer waters, to protect its victims and to push Israelis and Palestinians toward a just solution”.
She said her organization has consistently urged the international community to put in place the building blocks of a more peaceful and just future for Israelis and Palestinians. Further, it has called on the international community to press all sides to rethink the peace process in a manner that “acknowledges the structural power imbalance between an occupying State and an occupied people, and the necessity of challenging the impunity Israel has come to take for granted”.
However, she warned that, “arguably, the opposite has happened”. The new Israeli Government — inaugurated in June — continues to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank and take repressive measures against Palestinians in ways no different from its predecessors. At the same time, Palestinian politics has become “dangerously ossified”, with the Palestinian Authority turning into a governing body with limited powers that is unresponsive, unaccountable, authoritarian and repressive.
Outlining several recommendations, she said the global community should immediately seek a long-term truce in Gaza, a return to the historical status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites and a halt to eviction orders in East Jerusalem. It should also press Israel to end its settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and rescind the order banning the six Palestinian civil society groups. Palestinian elections must be held as soon as possible, with the participation of East Jerusalem’s Palestinians, and the Middle East Quartet Principles must be revised to allow Hamas to participate in a Palestinian unity Government.
The Council also heard its regular briefing by Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, who reported on recent incidents and new developments on the ground. He said that in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, clashes, attacks, search and arrest operations as well as other incidents resulted in the deaths of four Palestinians and one Israeli civilian.
In recent months, Israeli authorities announced tenders for 1,350 housing units — about half of which are at the heart of the northern West Bank — and advanced plans for some 3,200 additional units in Area C, after an eight-month hiatus. In a rare development, the authorities also advanced plans for a total of 7,300 housing units for Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and Area C. Urging Israel to advance additional plans for Palestinian housing, he noted that, notwithstanding that move, demolition and confiscation of Palestinian homes and other structures continued during the reporting period.
In the ensuing discussion, Council members welcomed recent international meetings of key actors, including a session of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee — a 15-member organ that coordinates development assistance to the Palestinian people, chaired by Norway — and a meeting of envoys of the Middle East Quartet, consisting of the European Union, the Russian Federation, the United States and the United Nations. Speakers largely voiced concern about Israel’s decision to designate six Palestinian non-governmental organizations as terrorist entities, while broadly welcoming the strong support expressed by Member States for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) at the ministerial conference co-hosted by Jordan and Sweden earlier this month.
China’s representative stressed the important role played by civil society organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and underlined the need to create an enabling environment for them. He also called for the convening of a United Nations-brokered, international peace conference, with participation by all permanent Council members and stakeholders in the Middle East peace process.
The representative of the Russian Federation said the Middle East Quartet is the sole internationally recognized mechanism to facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. As such, he called on his Quartet colleagues to examine several proposed initiatives, including one concerning an expanded format with the participation of regional States.
Norway’s delegate welcomed that the recent Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting, convened in Oslo, addressed the critical fiscal situation of the Palestinian Authority. She stressed that improving economic relations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel is key, as there is simply not much external aid available.
The representative of Niger was among those speakers calling for an immediate end to Israel’s continued occupation and illegal settlement activities. He stressed that those continued actions indicate that all hopes arising from the recent normalization of relations between Israel and some Arab States have been dashed.
Mexico’s representative called for the blockade on Gaza to be lifted definitively, emphasizing that a prosperous, peaceful Gaza Strip also means security for Israel. Urging both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to abstain from resorting to inflammatory rhetoric and acts of incitement, he emphasized that the “cycle of reciprocal violence must be broken”.
Meanwhile, the representative of the United States observed that the Council’s monthly meetings on the situation in the Middle East focus almost exclusively on Israel’s actions. The organ should also hold open meetings on the situation in Lebanon and meet more regularly on Iran, she said, noting that her country’s disapproval of settlement expansion goes back decades and warning that Israel’s current settlement activities undermine the viability of a negotiated two-State solution.
Also speaking were the representatives of Estonia, Kenya, Viet Nam, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Tunisia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and India.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 12:01 p.m.
TOR WENNESLAND, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said the West Bank is facing a severe fiscal and economic crisis, threatening the stability of Palestinian institutions. Ongoing violence and unilateral steps, including Israeli settlement expansion and demolition of Palestinian structures, continue to raise tensions, feed hopelessness, erode the Palestinian Authority’s standing and further diminish the prospect of a return to meaningful negotiations. In Gaza, the fragile cessation of hostilities continues to hold, but further steps are needed by all parties to ensure a sustainable solution that ultimately enables a return of legitimate Palestinian Government institutions to the strip.
Outlining the latest international efforts, he said the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee convened a ministerial meeting in Oslo on 17 November, with participants urging the parties to implement reforms and follow through on commitments to help stabilize the Palestinian economy and strengthen its institutions. On the margins, the Middle East Quartet envoys met and issued a joint statement expressing their concern regarding negative developments across the Occupied Palestinian Territory — including ongoing acts of violence in the West Bank, the advancement of new settlement units, the untenable fiscal crisis within the Palestinian Authority and threats of violence from Gaza. The envoys also reiterated the need to take constructive steps to advance a two-State solution and called on all parties to help address the current urgent challenges through fiscal and other reforms and by avoiding unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions and undermine the prospects for peace.
Turning to the situation on the ground, he said violence continues daily throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, clashes, attacks, search and arrest operations as well as other incidents resulted in the deaths of four Palestinians, including two children, and injuries to 90 others. That included injuries to 12 children caused by Israeli security forces. One Israeli civilian was killed, and nine civilians — including one woman, one child, and six members of the Israeli security forces — were injured. On 5 November, Israeli security forces shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian boy during clashes near Nablus. Tensions and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces also rose in and around Jerusalem’s Old City. On 17 November, a 16-year-old Palestinian stabbed two Israeli security forces personnel, and in response, an Israeli civilian and a security officer shot the perpetrator dead. Meanwhile, on 21 November, a Palestinian man opened fire at Israeli civilians, killing one and injuring two others. Israeli security forces returned fire and killed the attacker.
Turning to settlement-related issues during the reporting period, he said settlers and other Israeli civilians in the occupied West Bank perpetrated some 54 attacks against Palestinians, resulting in 26 injuries and damage to property. Palestinians perpetrated 41 attacks against Israeli settlers and other civilians, resulting in one death and nine injuries. On 24 October, Israeli authorities announced tenders for 1,350 housing units, about half of which are at the heart of the northern West Bank. Several days later, after a hiatus of eight months, Israeli authorities advanced plans for some 3,200 housing units in Area C, with many located in outlying settlements. In a rare development, Israeli authorities also advanced plans for some 6,000 housing units for Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and 1,300 housing units for Palestinians in Area C. Urging Israel to advance additional plans for Palestinian housing, he noted that, notwithstanding that move, demolition and confiscation of Palestinian homes and other structures continued during the reporting period.
In another concerning development, he recalled that, on 22 October, Israel’s Ministry of Defense announced the designation of six Palestinian non-governmental organizations as terrorist groups, accusing them of constituting an “inseparable arm” of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization as designated by Israel, the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan and the European Union. The Israel Defense Forces extended the applicability of those designations to the occupied West Bank through military orders. Noting that the designated entities work closely with the United Nations and the international community, including on human rights and humanitarian response, he said several receive a significant portion of their funding from Member States. The legal implications of the designations are potentially wide-ranging and add to increasing pressures on civil society organizations across the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Turning briefly to Gaza, he said humanitarian, recovery and reconstruction efforts continue alongside steps to further stabilize the situation on the ground. However, the goal remains the lifting of all closures in line with Council resolution 1860 (2009). Welcoming the strong support expressed by Member States for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) at the ministerial conference co-hosted by Jordan and Sweden earlier in November, he said the Agency still lacks $60 million to sustain essential services to millions of Palestine refugees across the region through the end of the year. Against that backdrop, he emphasized the need to maintain calm on the ground and encouraged all parties to implement policy shifts and reforms, address the key conflict drivers and restore a political horizon that will help stop the endless cycle of crisis. Meanwhile, the Middle East Quartet will continue its consultations with the parties and key regional actors, he added.
COMFORT ERO, Interim Vice President and Programme Director of the International Crisis Group, said, over the past year, her organization, which prevents and resolves deadly conflicts, noted with alarm a new onset of violence in Israel and Palestine. In that context, she said the Council and the international community have done “too little to steer this tragic conflict into calmer waters, to protect its victims and to push Israelis and Palestinians toward a just solution”. The violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in April and May serves as the latest reminder of the instability of the status quo. Alongside the rockets from Gaza, Palestinians have not acquiesced to territorial fragmentation nor to political marginalization, while Israeli Jews further hardened their conviction that there is no political deal to be had.
Against that backdrop, she said, faith in the Middle East peace process has waned on both sides of this conflict — as well as among many Council members. Israel has grown comfortable with the status quo, imposing its own realities on the ground in violation of Council resolutions, and it has consistently rejected anything resembling a plausible two-State outcome, including explicitly under its present Government. Palestinians have seen Israel further entrench its control, denying them their rights and freedoms at a gathering pace. Her organization has consistently urged the international community to put in place the building blocks for a more peaceful and just future for Israelis and Palestinians. Further, it called on the international community to press all sides to cease violent and provocative actions and take steps to “rethink the entire edifice of the peace process”, in a manner that “acknowledges the structural power imbalance between an occupying State and an occupied people, and the necessity of challenging the impunity Israel has come to take for granted”.
However, she pointed out that “arguably, the opposite has happened”, with the new Israeli Government — inaugurated in June — continuing to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank and taking repressive measures against Palestinians in ways no different from its predecessors. She further cited the Government’s decision to outlaw six highly respected Palestinian civil society organizations — which have been carrying out their work in a lawful manner to the benefit of Palestinian society and in defence of basic principles of human rights — on specious charges of being “terrorists”, as giving the impression that Israel’s policy of “shrinking” the conflict and strengthening the Palestinian Authority in practice goes hand in hand with de facto annexation. At the same time, Palestinian politics has become “dangerously ossified”, with the Palestinian Authority turning into a governing body with limited powers that is unresponsive, unaccountable, authoritarian and repressive. The international community, through its passive stance, gives cover to Israeli Government practices.
Noting that 29 November marked the seventy-fourth anniversary of General Assembly Resolution 181 and the world’s failure to deliver on its promise of a two-State solution, she called on the international community to focus less on political paradigms and more on what is happening on the ground. While only political negotiations will settle the conflict, such efforts will not succeed without a few basic conditions, including Israel’s willingness to engage Palestinians, both individually as equals and as a collective, with aspirations to national self-determination.
Making several related recommendations, she said the global community should immediately push for a long-term truce in Gaza; a return to the historical status quo arrangement at Jerusalem’s holy sites, as conceived in 1967; a halt to eviction orders in East Jerusalem; an end to settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; the rescission of the order banning the six Palestinian civil society groups; holding Palestinian elections as soon as possible, with the participation of East Jerusalem’s Palestinians; and a revision of the Quartet Principles, so as to allow Hamas to participate in a Palestinian unity Government.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), recalling her recent visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, said she saw how serious the security situation is for Israel, which is subjected to regular terrorist attacks funded by Iran. Noting that the Council’s monthly meetings on the situation in the Middle East focus almost exclusively on Israel’s actions, she said the organ’s attention should reflect all threats to international peace and security — including by holding open meetings on Lebanon and meeting more regularly on Iran — and stressed that “Israel does not define the Middle East”. She also detailed how serious the security situation is for Palestine, noting stories of Israeli settlers ransacking homes and destroying property in the West Bank. The United States disapproval of settlement expansion goes back decades, but current settlement activities now undermine the viability of a negotiated two-State solution. She called on the Council to enforce its resolutions intended to constrain Iran’s malign activities, to speak with one voice in denouncing incitements to violence and to promote steps aimed at improving the lives of ordinary Palestinians. She also urged the global community to provide financial contributions to UNRWA that match the political support the Agency enjoys.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said tensions in the West Bank and Gaza continue unabated, presenting a looming risk of military hostilities similar to the conflict in May. Accordingly, the international community is faced with the pressing, overarching objectives of providing for stabilization and delivering humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. Noting that the Middle East Quartet is the sole internationally recognized mechanism to facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian settlement, he called on his Quartet colleagues to examine several proposed initiatives, including one concerning an expanded format with the participation of regional States. He went on to express concern over dangerous, unilateral actions such as the seizure and demolition of Palestinian property, expanded settlement activity and arbitrary arrests and detentions. The ongoing construction of settlements can be viewed as the “de facto annexation” of the majority of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He also expressed concern regarding UNRWA’s ongoing financial difficulties, noting his country’s support for the Agency and calling on the international community to do the same.
MONA JUUL (Norway), urging Israel to cease its evictions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, noted that the existing plans for illegal settlements — and new ones, if built — would seriously weaken the prospect of establishing a contiguous Palestinian State. Increased settler violence in the West Bank is deeply worrying, she said, warning that the recent Israeli designation of six Palestinian non-governmental organizations as terror groups will shrink the already limited space for civil society engagement in Palestine. Noting that a recent Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting, organized by Norway, addressed the critical fiscal situation of the Palestinian Authority, she stressed that improving economic relations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel is key, as there is simply not much external aid available. Against that backdrop, she noted that a strong Palestinian Authority — one which is trusted by the people and represents all of Palestine — is vital, and stressed that her country will increase its funding for UNRWA, while urging others to do the same.
SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), reiterating the importance of continued dialogue between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, expressed support for international and regional efforts to support Gaza’s reconstruction, as well as recent steps by Israel to ease restrictions there. Voicing concern about continued incidents of violence in the West Bank, including clashes between the Palestinians and the Israeli security forces, he strongly condemned terror attacks and violence perpetrated against civilians, including the attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on 21 November. The continued Israeli settlement expansions, demolitions and evictions run counter to international law, he stressed, noting that UNRWA continues to be an essential lifeline for many Palestinians and a strong contributor to peace and stability in the region.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya) urged Israeli authorities to cease actions hampering a lasting, political solution in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the recent announcement of 3,100 new settlements in the West Bank. Condemning terrorist acts perpetrated by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other affiliated militant groups against Israeli civilians and civilian infrastructure, he condemned the killing by a Hamas gunman of the South African immigrant Eliyahu David Kay, during the recent terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City. Calling for reinforcement of UNRWA — which plays a critical role throughout the Middle East in providing health, education, social protection, microfinance and other services — he further stressed the importance of cooperation and exchange of constructive measures when addressing sustainable development and the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Gaza and the West Bank. Emphasizing the need to condemn and designate terrorist groups, he said such designations must be approached with caution so as not to grant them unwarranted recognition, a semblance of strength or eager new recruits.
DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam) emphasized that as the occupying Power, Israel and its security forces have done too little to stop settlers’ attacks and protect the Palestinians, noting that the number of attacks by settlers between January and October was the highest recorded in recent years. “We have not seen any effort by relevant authorities to reverse this trend,” he said, adding that Israeli security guards are using excessive force against Palestinian protesters. The safety of Israelis is important, but Palestinians deserve equal measures of security and dignity. Citing new settlement construction plans by Israel, he said those activities violate international law and undermine the potential of establishing a viable and contiguous State of Palestine. In that regard, he welcomed the recent statement and efforts by the Middle East Quartet to advance a two-State solution and expressed appreciation for the work of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, particularly by Norway, in holding a meeting to assist the Palestinian Authority, as it faces an acute financial situation.
ZHANG JUN (China) called for calm on the ground, urging the parties to refrain from violence and stressing that “force does not bring peace and tranquility”. Noting that Israel has built more than 3,000 housing units in the occupied West Bank and that more than 700,000 settlers have moved in, he said such activities disrupt the contiguity of a future Palestinian State. Against that backdrop, he stressed the important role played by civil society organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and underlined the need to create an enabling environment for them. He went on to urge the Council to take robust action and called for the convening of a United Nations-brokered, international peace conference on the question of Palestine, with participation by all permanent Council members and stakeholders in the Middle East peace process.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) reaffirmed her country’s support for a two-State solution and underscored the importance of supporting efforts to improve conditions on the ground and promote stability in the absence of a political solution. In that regard, she welcomed the recent meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee hosted by Norway, and commitments made therein to reinvigorate the Palestinian-Israeli Joint Economic Committee and resolve key technical issues. On 19 November, the United Kingdom designated Hamas, including its political wing, as a terrorist organization, she said, stressing that the group must renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previously signed agreements. Condemning the killing of Israeli civilian Eliyahu Kay on 21 November, reportedly by a member of Hamas, she went on to say that the recent designation of six Palestinian non-governmental organizations is a matter for the Government of Israel. Reiterating support for UNRWA and encouraging efforts to improve its financial situation, she further called for the reversal of the trend of settler violence against Palestinians and urged Israel to bring those responsible to justice. Moreover, she called on Israel to reverse its decisions of 24 and 27 October to advance the construction of settlement units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which constitute a threat to the viability of a future Palestinian State and, therefore, to peace and stability.
WADID BENAABOU (France), recalling that building settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is illegal under international law, expressed concern over the possible construction of a new settlement north of Jerusalem. He called on Israeli authorities to refrain from pursuing that course of action, noting that it would mark the creation of a new settlement in East Jerusalem for the first time in over 25 years. The authorities must also reverse settlement-expansion projects, which imperil a two-State solution and directly jeopardize a future Palestinian State. Detailing an increase in settler violence and the concerning deterioration of the situation in Jerusalem, he called on all stakeholders to respect the status quo of holy sites, reiterated France’s concern over the designation of six Palestinian non-governmental organizations as terrorist organizations and urged all parties to abstain from unilateral measures. He went on to welcome the international community’s support for UNRWA and called on all States — including Arab Gulf States — to increase their budgetary contributions to the Agency.
ABDOU ABARRY (Niger) described the Special Coordinator’s briefing as a catalogue of incidents on the ground, with little having changed from his last report. Israel continues to enjoy the comfort of impunity. Its actions, including the recent designation of six non-governmental organizations as terrorist entities, speaks volumes of its disdain for international law. Stressing that Israel’s occupation and illegal settlement activities have undermined the diplomatic efforts of other countries, he said it is now evident that all hopes arising from the recent normalization of relations between Israel and some Arab States have been dashed. The international community must not turn a blind eye to Israel’s actions, including its forced displacement of Palestinians and the demolition of their building structures. Instead, it must seize the thirtieth anniversary of the 1991 Madrid Conference to help relaunch the peace process, he said.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) urged Israel to halt all settlement progression and construction and to comply fully with resolution 2334 (2016). She voiced concern about the impact on civil society of Israel’s designation of six Palestinian non-governmental organizations — including groups supported by Ireland and the European Union — as terrorist entities. Strongly condemning all acts of violence and terrorism, including in the Old City of Jerusalem, she went on to welcome that both parties attended the recent meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee with a practical attitude toward addressing the Palestinians’ economic situation. Pointing to UNRWA’s dire financial situation, she called on other donors, particularly in the region, to step up and translate political support into financial commitments, drawing attention to her country’s recent pledge of additional support to the Agency. Ireland also renews its call for Israel to end the blockade of Gaza, she said, urging the parties to build on recent positive steps while noting that the situation will not be resolved without sustained and substantive attention by the Council and the international community.
ALI CHERIF (Tunisia) reaffirmed his country’s support for the just cause of the Palestinian people and their legitimate demands for self-determination, as well as the need to end the brutal occupation. He called on the international community to step up efforts to ameliorate the deteriorating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and underlined the need to end oppressive discriminatory practices, expansionist settlement activity and the forceful displacement of Palestinians. Also urging the lifting of restrictions in Gaza, he said the Council must shoulder its responsibility in line with resolution 2334 (2016) and hold the occupying Power to account for disregard and violations of international law. He rejected the decision to designate six non-governmental organizations as terrorist entities, adding that civil society organizations must be allowed to carry out their role in the Occupied Palestinian Territory without restrictions. Steps are needed to relaunch meaningful, credible and time-bound negotiations for a just and permanent peace, he said, voicing concern about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and underlining the urgent need for more funding to address UNRWA’s financial deficit.
INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) reiterated Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ call for an international peace conference, with the participation of all stakeholders in the Middle East peace process. She called on the Israeli authorities to fulfil their obligations under international law to maintain public order in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, noting that Palestinians must be protected from settler violence and the perpetrators must be held to account. Meanwhile, the fragile situation in Gaza, following the 11-day siege in May, requires an urgent international and cross-cutting approach, including addressing the impact of climate change on crop yields and quality of life. She called on the international community to increase financial support to United Nations agencies and to help strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s ability to assume its responsibility in the recovery and reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.
RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India) said such recent developments as acts of violence against civilians in both Israel and Palestine could pose challenges to resuming direct negotiations. Condemning such acts, he said unilateral actions that unduly alter the status quo on the ground and undercut the viability of a two-State solution must be avoided. Welcoming cooperation among Israel, the Palestinian Authority and regional countries to improve socioeconomic conditions in the West Bank and Gaza, he said India continues to provide development and humanitarian assistance, both bilaterally through the Palestinian Authority and through contributions to the United Nations, including throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Calling for regular and predictable transfers of aid, he said India remains supportive of UNRWA’s efforts and has fully disbursed its pledged contribution for 2021. Direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine will provide a sustainable platform to resolve all final status issues, he said, urging the Quartet and the international community to engage with the Israeli and Palestinian leadership in an effort to kick-start talks.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), Council President for November, speaking in his national capacity, condemned the recent authorization of the construction of new housing units and underscored that settlement activities — including the confiscation and demolition of property — are illegal under international law and pose an obstacle to a two-State solution. Turning to the situation in Gaza, he welcomed mediation efforts consolidating the ceasefire, along with Israel’s easing of restrictions to allow the regular, predictable flow of basic necessities to the Palestinian people. Calling for the blockade to be lifted definitively, he emphasized that a prosperous, peaceful Gaza also means security for Israel. He went on to point out that the designation of six Palestinian civil society organizations as terrorist groups reduces democratic space and jeopardizes human rights. Urging both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to abstain from resorting to inflammatory rhetoric and acts of incitement, he emphasized that the “cycle of reciprocal violence must be broken”.