Suffering of Palestinians, Israelis can end only through political solution, UN envoy says

The suffering of Palestinians and Israelis - the deaths and injuries, the economic devastation, the profound insecurity - can end only through a political solution, a top United Nations envoy in the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen, said today at a meeting in London on Palestinian reform.

“The humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is not caused by a natural disaster. It comes from a conflict,” Mr. Roed-Larsen said in a speech delivered to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on Palestinian Reform, part of a number of activities of the so-called Quartet - comprising the UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States - taking place in London this week.

“Bringing this conflict to an end is entirely within the power of the parties here today,” stressed Mr. Roed-Larsen, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

He said the task of the meeting will be to seek ways “to break the dilemma that has us maintaining our intense humanitarian engagement - despite the lack of political progress,” and that a start would be an agreement on the minimum needs and basic rights of the civilian population, whatever the prevailing security circumstances.

“We must ensure that every teacher and pupil is able to get to school, every patient has access to health care, every worker can reach his or her workplace; every household has access to safe and affordable water,” Mr. Roed-Larsen told the participants.

The UN Envoy reiterated the fact that only a comprehensive plan like the Quartet’s road map can succeed in resolving these dilemmas. “Regrettably, while the road map’s clock is wound, it is not yet ticking,” Mr. Roed-Larsen said. “And while we are confident that will start soon, there is an absolute imperative to improve the lives of ordinary people right now.”