Hostilities in occupied West Bank must end, UN Security Council told

Meeting requested by UAE addresses rising violence in occupied Palestinian territory amid the Israeli siege of Gaza

Bullet holes in a wall in Jenin, West Bank. Getty Images
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

During a UN Security Council meeting held on the situation in the Middle East on Friday, delegates called for an end to growing hostilities in the West Bank.

“To prevent the recurrence of an endless cycle of violence, the current hostilities throughout the Palestinian territory must end with a plan to meaningfully advance the parties towards a negotiated solution,” said Khaled Khiari, assistant secretary general for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific.

Since the war began in October, there has been a spike in extremist settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank as well as an increased number of raids by the Israeli military.

The UN says at least 300 Palestinians, among them 79 children, have been killed so far in the territory.

“Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, have intensified their campaign of violence against Palestinians,” said Itay Epshtein, special adviser at the Norwegian Refugee Council.

“In recent months, poor communities have been forcibly displaced by settler violence. Israeli authorities are doing next to nothing to prevent these attacks resulting in numerous fatalities.”

The meeting on the situation in the West Bank was called for by the UAE on Thursday.

The Emirates called for “a plan towards separation that starts rather than ends with a Palestinian state”, while warning that the “hellscape” of Gaza threatened the wider region.

“The violence visited by Israeli settlers on Palestinians in the West Bank is the logical endpoint of a settler enterprise that has been swallowing up Palestinian land for decades,” said Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE's ambassador to the UN.

“Nothing about this conflict was inevitable. Nothing about where we go from here is inevitable. At every moment, there was and is choice, but we must make those decisions now and use the collective courage of the countries in this room and outside it to change course.”

Majed Bamya, of the State of Palestine's UN mission, told the council that “the killing of Palestinian civilians is not a collateral effect of the war”.

“This council has called for the protection of civilians for immediate safe, unhindered and expanded humanitarian access, for the delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout the Gaza Strip, for respect for the laws of war, and it has rejected forced displacement – all of which require an immediate ceasefire that this council has been prevented to call for repeatedly.”

Israel hit back, accusing the council of being “quick to show solidarity with civilian across the Middle East so long as they are not Israelis”.

Gilad Erdan, Israel's ambassador to the UN, said that “in less than three months, there were over 3,000 Palestinian terror attacks – 15 times more than of the incidence of extremist Israeli violence in the same time frame”.

Updated: December 29, 2023, 8:10 PM