UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, urged today all sides to protect the right of Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, participate in credible and inclusive Palestinian elections.
Speaking before the UN Security Council's virtual session on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, he said "the holding of credible elections in Palestine is a crucial step towards renewing the legitimacy of national institutions and reestablishing Palestinian national unity. I encourage international support to these efforts."
Wennesland urged all the concerned parties to "refrain from any arrest, detention or interrogation based on freedom of opinion, freedom of expression or freedom of association."
The UN official welcome the Central Elections Commission (CEC)'s efforts to plan for and implement special measures to ensure safe voting in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. "I also underscore the critical role of election observers to ensure respect for the results of a credible and transparent process."
"I emphasize that any disputes should be resolved in a peaceful manner and through official legal mechanisms," he added.
Meanwhile, Wennesland expressed his grave concern over the significant rise in active COVID-19 cases in Gaza "where the daily infection rate is reaching its highest level since the onset of the pandemic. In the West Bank, many hospitals remain at or near full capacity."
He said the socio-economic impact of the pandemic has significantly exacerbated a seemingly never-ending fiscal and economic crisis in both the West Bank and Gaza, and therefore support for the Palestinian Government’s response must continue to be a priority.
The UN coordinator also welcomed the resumption of US support to Palestine, including to UNRWA. "I appeal to all Member States to remobilize support to UNWRA, whose services are not only a lifeline for millions of Palestine refugees but are also critical for stability throughout the region. Funding the UN response is the fastest and most efficient way to address urgent needs in the OPT.