The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process made a special visit to Hebron on Wednesday in order to properly evaluate the rise in violence in the contentious city.
Following his visit, Nickolay Mladenov held a press conference in the southern district, and promised to deliver a message on behalf of the residents of Hebron at a UN Security Council meeting in two weeks.
“A complete generation has lost hope in peace and in the two-state solution and it is our responsibility to bring hope to the Palestinians through working with all sides to reduce the current violence,” Mladenov said.
Mladenov was escorted by the Governor of Hebron, Kamil Hmeid, and Mayor Dawood al-Zaatari.
The UN coordinator said he "saw the state of tension in the Old City," but at the same he felt the "vitality in Hebron, which is the heart of Palestinian economy.”
While the Hebron district accounts for a third of the West Bank’s GDP, around 1,829 shops have closed in the Old City during the past 15 years, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with 77 percent of residents living below the poverty line.
“The old city has become a ghost town, and the economy has deteriorated drastically,” Mayor Hmeid told Mladenov, highlighting that the restrictions on movement in the city by Israeli forces deprive residents of social contiguity.
In addition to extreme poverty, the residents of Hebron are subjectedto a stringent restrictions on their freedom of movement, with over 18 Israeli military checkpoints in the Old City alone.
During his visit, Mladenov passed through one of those checkpoints, commenting that, “when I passed through checkpoints in the Old City of Hebron, I know I experienced only one percent of what the Palestinians feel as they go through these checkpoints every day."
Hebron's mayor also highlighted the violence the nearly 30,000 Palestinians residents of the Old City experience everyday at the hands of the 700 Israeli settlers that reside in the city under the protection of thousands of Israeli soldiers.
“Since the Israeli occupation authorities occupied the land of Palestine in 1967, no settler has been tried for crimes committed against the Palestinian people," Hmeid said.
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