October 20, 2021

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United Nations Envoy – Global Issues

United Nations Envoy - Global Issues


“The successful completion of the inclusive Palestinian elections is a fundamental step towards the renewal of the democratic legitimacy of the Palestinian government,” he said, speaking from Jerusalem.

“These elections should also pave the way to unite Gaza and the West Bank under one legitimate national authority, which would be an important step towards reconciliation and could advance peace in the Middle East.”

Increasing youth participation

Preparations continue for the Palestinian Legislative Council elections set for May 22, he said.

Registration of candidates was completed on March 31 and the final lists are scheduled for April 30, the start of the official campaign period.

“Since my last briefing, an increasing number of young people should participate in shaping their political future and have the opportunity to vote for the first time,” he said.

The UN has supported the electoral process, engaging regularly with parties and with the Central Election Committee (CEC).

“To date, the CEC has carried out its duties with professionalism and integrity, building confidence in the electoral process,” he said. “I also stress the fundamental role of election observers to ensure compliance with the results of a credible and transparent process”.

COVID-19 “a formidable threat”

Mr. Wennesland also welcomed the CEC’s plans to implement special measures for safe voting during the pandemic.

As of Thursday, there have been more than 316,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the occupied Palestinian territory, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Addressing the crisis, he said COVID-19 continues to pose “a formidable threat” throughout the occupied Palestinian territory and vaccination needs to be stepped up.

© UNICEF-SoP

The State of Palestine received the first shipment of the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the COVAX facility on March 21, 2021.

“I am seriously concerned about the significant increase in active cases in Gaza, where the daily rate of infection is reaching its highest level since the start of the pandemic. In the West Bank, many hospitals remain at or near full capacity, ”he said.

The envoy updated the ambassadors on the vaccination campaign that the Palestinian authorities launched last month.

More vaccines are needed

More than 300,000 doses have been administered so far, he said, and Israel has also continued efforts to vaccinate segments of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. In addition, more than 100,000 Palestinians who have permits to enter Israel have also been vaccinated.

“As the socio-economic impact of the pandemic has greatly exacerbated a seemingly never-ending fiscal and economic crisis in both the West Bank and Gaza, support for the Palestinian government response must continue to be a priority,” Wennesland said.

“I welcome all the efforts made so far to vaccinate the Palestinian population, but the process needs to be accelerated and more vaccines are needed.”