United Nations, United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, on Tuesday told the Security Council that the world body stands ready to support the Palestinian elections scheduled for later this year.
In his first briefing to the Council, the senior Norwegian diplomat said the elections will be a crucial step towards unity in the region, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree earlier this month announcing that parliamentary and presidential elections will be held starting in May, marking the first vote across the Occupied Territories in 15 years.
Wennesland has joined UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in welcoming the development.
“The holding of elections in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza, will be a crucial step towards Palestinian unity, giving renewed legitimacy to national institutions, including a democratically-elected parliament and government in Palestine,” he told the virtual meeting.
“The United Nations stands ready to support efforts for the Palestinian people to exercise their democratic rights. Elections are a crucial part of building a democratic Palestinian State built on rule of law, with equal rights for all.”
Abbas was elected in 2005 and his Fatah party controls the Palestinian National Authority, which is based in the Occupied West Bank. The militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, won parliamentary elections held a year later.
Wennesland said forthcoming talks in Cairo to resolve outstanding issues related to the elections will be important for the preparatory process to move forward.
Addressing the broader context, the new envoy underscored the UN’s support for a two-state solution for the Palestinians and Israelis, and hopes for a negotiated and lasting peace in the region.
“Despite the significant challenges, achieving the outcome remains possible. And there are opportunities unique to this moment that should not be missed,” he said.
“I hope that the promise of the recent agreements made between Israel and Arab countries will lead to a situation where a more peaceful Middle East can be realised. However, it requires leaders on all sides to re-engage meaningfully and return to the path of negotiations,” he added.