In his latest – and perhaps shrillest – remonstrance against Israeli plans to annex parts of Yehudah and Shomron, the U.N. envoy for the Middle East warned on Thursday that carrying out those plans could set off a spasm of violence that would upend Israeli-Palestinian relations and reverberate across the region.
Speaking to a group of foreign correspondents in Yerushalayim, Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. special coordinator for the region, said any Israeli unilateral action will “will have economic and security repercussions on the ground that will affect the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians.”
“Surely any such moves will be met by countermoves by the Palestinian Authority and they have already started,” he told members of the Foreign Press Association, noting how the Palestinians have absolved themselves of abiding by past agreements with Israel.
“For now we have the clear commitment by the Palestinian leadership that they will do everything in their power to contain law and order in the areas they control,” he said. “But as the money runs out and as the political prospects become more grim, I feel that will become more difficult or impossible in the future.”
His stern warning comes amid a flurry of international pressure on Israel to recant on its plans.
On Wednesday, the head of the Arab League warned the U.N. Security Council that any annexation would inflame tensions and endanger peace in the Middle East, and could ignite “a religious war in and beyond our region.”
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the 22-member organization, said annexation will also have “broader ramifications on the international security around the world.”
“If implemented, Israeli annexation plans would not only be detrimental to the chances of peace today but will destroy any prospects for peace in the future,” he told the Security Council. “Palestinians will lose faith in a negotiated solution, I’m afraid Arabs too will lose interest in regional peace. A new dark reality will set in vis à vis this conflict and in the region at large.”
More than a thousand European lawmakers also signed a joint letter protesting Israel’s plan, saying such a move would “be fatal” to hopes for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Also on Thursday, Hamas threatened Israel will pay an “unprecedented price” if it goes ahead with annexation, saying it would be a “declaration of war,” according to reports citing an Arabic-language video by Hamas spokesperson Abu Obeida.