With Covid-19 cases on the rise in the Middle East following weeks of decline, the UN has welcomed the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) decision to resume coordination with Israel.
In a briefing to the Security Council on Wednesday, the UN envoy for the Middle East, Nikolay Mladenov said that Gaza remains the most pressing concern as the territory is ill-equipped to face a major spike in Covid-19 cases due to poor living conditions and a fragile healthcare system.
He warned that the outbreak of the disease would have a catastrophic impact on the two million Palestinians living there, who are already affected by severe movement and access restrictions, cycles of violent escalation, and years of humanitarian crisis.
“For these reasons, I welcome the Palestinian Authority’s decision to restart civilian and security coordination with Israel.
“I express my appreciation to Israel for confirming that existing bilateral agreements continue to govern relations between both parties, particularly in the context of economic, security and civilian affairs,” Mladenov told the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East. The envoy thanked all those who helped bring about this development, noting that it took months of hard work.
“I have previously expressed hope that recognition of the interdependence of Israelis and Palestinians could, with political will and leadership, translate into tangible progress towards a resolution of the conflict. “Both sides should understand the importance of respecting the validity and continuing force of the framework that they have agreed to govern their relations,” he added.
Mladenov said that the UN and its partners continue to provide critical humanitarian development and assistance in Gaza, as unemployment and hunger have soared during the pandemic. Roughly 121,000 Palestinians have lost their jobs, while some 40 per cent of all households have seen their incomes drop by more than half.
He added that the UN force in the region continues to engage the parties to exercise utmost restraint and to avoid any actions that might trigger an escalation.