Holy Land: chance of two-state solution vanishing, says report

 Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are on the verge of destroying any chance of a two-state solution for Palestinian and Israeli people, says a new Christian Aid report, Facts on the ground: the end of the two-state solution?. In the report Christian Aid argues that the European Union are complicit in this through negligence. The report was launched yesterday afternoon by Baroness Shirley Williams and Senator David Norris - in the UK and Ireland, respectively. Both recently travelled with Christian Aid to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Report co-author William Bell said: "The prospect of a viable state is vanishing before Palestinian eyes as the economy is strangled. The two-state solution is looking increasingly illusory. As a result, poverty levels are rising and Christian Aid is hearing of mounting malnutrition, anaemia, of unemployment and of farmers prevented from tilling their land. "Without urgent measures to address the land issue - at the heart of this conflict - there will be no end to violence," he added. "Israel's current effort to secure as much land as possible is fanning the flames of conflict and putting Israelis in greater, not less, danger." Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory is subject to international humanitarian law and UN resolutions. The UK and Ireland are signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention and the relevant UN resolutions, and are obliged to act. The policy of successive Israeli governments to build and expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the decision to build the separation barrier on Palestinian territory, is in breach of these laws and resolutions. The settlements and the separation barrier constitute so-called 'facts on the ground' that become increasingly difficult to negotiate away. They divide the Occupied Territories such that soon it will be impossible for these territories to be constituted into a viable and autonomous state, alongside the state of Israel. If the two-state solution is to be realised - which is the stated policy of the British and Irish governments, President George Bush, and the European Union - these 'facts on the ground' must be challenged. Simply speaking, the separation barrier and the settlements - as presently constituted - must be dismantled. The report also stresses the need for the Palestinian Authority to show a commitment to transparency, accountability and democratic principles. A lack of good governance has denied Palestinians legitimate representation and encouraged extremist factions. The report says it is time to move beyond the rhetoric of condemnation and for the UK and Irish governments to take actions that hold both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to account. To read the report visit: www.christian-aid.org.uk

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