Israel rejection will embolden extremists: UN chief
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said it was "unacceptable" for Israel's government to reject a two-state solution to its conflict with the Palestinians, warning that the move would "embolden extremists everywhere."
At a high-level meeting of the UN Security Council on the Middle East, Guterres said: "Israel's occupation must end."
The 15-member council has long endorsed a vision of two states living side by side within secure and recognized borders. Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, all territory captured by Israel in 1967, reports Reuters.
With war raging in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that Israel needs security control over all land west of the Jordan River - which covers the Palestinian territories - adding: "It clashes with the principle of sovereignty but what can you do."
"The entire population of Gaza is enduring destruction at a scale and speed without parallel in recent history," Guterres told the Security Council. "Nothing can justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people."
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday renewed opposition to territorial changes in the Gaza Strip. Blinken, on a visit to Nigeria, was responding to repeated suggestions that Israel would create a buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip, a prospect that has stirred anger in the Arab world, reports AFP.
In his Security Council address on Tuesday evening, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki singled out Netanyahu, accusing him of being "driven by a single goal - his own political survival at the expense of the survival of millions of Palestinians under Israel's illegal occupation and peace and security for all."