UN Mideast Envoys Call for Regional Cease-fires
The United Nations special envoys for Syria, Yemen, Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have urged factions across the region to immediately declare cease-fires in order to permit local authorities to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The diplomats stressed that the health crisis could not be adequately addressed “if the guns of war [were] not silenced.” They added that “partisanship and narrow interests must yield to the greater cause and the good of the people. That is why we echo the secretary-general in calling on all parties in the Middle East to work with the UN so we can focus on the true fight of our lives.” Earlier this month, UN chief Antonio Guterres specifically referenced Israeli-Palestinian coordination as a model for tackling the outbreak. “Different parties to a conflict [are] cooperating in order to respond to this dramatic situation,” he said. “To give an example, in fighting COVID-19, the Palestinian Authority and Israel have been able to work together, even if we know the extreme division that exists politically between the two [sides].” In response to Guterres’ appeal, the Saudi-led coalition battling Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen began observing a unilateral cease-fire on Thursday. A Saudi military official said that operations would be halted for two weeks, although it remains unclear if the rebels intend to abide by the truce.