UN chief warns against 'one-state reality'

Antonio Guterres warns recent developments in the Middle East could bury the “two-state solution”.

Elad Benari,

Antonio Guterres
Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday that recent developments in the Middle East could create "an irreversible one-state reality" that would bury the so-called “two-state solution” of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

"Negative trends on the ground have the potential to create an irreversible one-state reality that is incompatible with realizing the legitimate national, historic and democratic aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians," Guterres told a UN meeting of a committee on Palestinian rights, according to the AFP news agency.

The UN chief said the global consensus on settling the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict "could be eroding, making effective concerted action more difficult to achieve, at a time when it is more important than ever."

"There is no Plan B," Guterres insisted at the meeting. "A two-state solution is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and secure a sustainable solution to the conflict."

He also said that Israel's ongoing “construction of settlements”, violent attacks and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza are dimming prospects for a long-term peace.

Guterres's comments come as the peace process continues to stall, mainly due to Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas's refusal to come to the negotiating table. Instead of heeding Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's calls for talks, the PA chairman has chosen to impose preconditions on such talks.

Abbas has continued his refusal to negotiate with Israel following U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Abbas, angry over Trump's move, declared that he would "no longer accept" any peace plan proposed by the United States.

He is now planning to bypass the U.S. and Israel altogether by asking EU foreign ministers to recognize a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 territories with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

Abbas is due to address the UN Security Council on February 20 where he is expected to respond to Trump's Jerusalem move.

Tensions have also flared between the PA and the U.S. over Washington's decision to cut funding to the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”, UNRWA. The cut has prompted Guterres to appeal to countries to step in to fill the gap.