U.N. chief says important Mideast peace efforts realise two-state vision

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday it was important 'to pursue peace efforts to realise the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.' Guterres was speaking at a pledging conference in New York for the U.N.

Reuters June 26, 2019 02:07:22 IST
U.N. chief says important Mideast peace efforts realise two-state vision

UN chief says important Mideast peace efforts realise twostate vision

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday it was important "to pursue peace efforts to realise the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security."

Guterres was speaking at a pledging conference in New York for the U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees as President Donald Trump's administration launched in Bahrain a $50 billion economic formula for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

It is not clear whether the Trump administration plans to abandon the "two-state solution," which involves creation of an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel. The Trump administration has consistently refused to commit to it, keeping the political stage of its peace plan a secret.

At the pledging conference in New York, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) - which helps five million registered Palestinian refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza - raised some $110 million to help continue its operations, UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl said.

He told reporters that there was no clash between the UNRWA pledging event and the U.S.-organized conference in Bahrain because "we deal with the realities of today."

Most of the refugees UNRWA helps are descendants of about 700,000 Palestinians who were driven out of their homes or fled fighting in the 1948 war that led to Israel's creation and claim a right of return to the lands they left.

Hatem Hamdouna, a 14-year-old student from Gaza and member of the UNRWA student parliament, addressed ambassadors and diplomats at the pledging conference in New York on Tuesday.

"Since I was born, I experienced three wars," he said. "However, during the darkest times UNRWA education was my only hope for a better future ... UNRWA education is just like oxygen, it keeps us alive."

The United States - formerly UNRWA's largest donor, halted its funding to the agency in 2018, deeming its fiscal practices "irredeemably flawed" and stoking tensions between the Palestinians and the Trump administration.

UNRWA was able to fill the gap of several hundred million dollars and Krahenbuhl said that, while each year is a struggle, he was encouraged that donor momentum had not been lost.

UNRWA's mandate is due to come up for renewal later this year in the General Assembly, where support for the agency has been traditionally strong and the United States would likely face an uphill battle to change or cancel the operation.

"We actually have probably the best support base in overall political terms that we've ever had in the history of this institution," Krahenbuhl said.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.