May 25, 7:20 PM EDT

The U.N.'s top Mideast envoy says Palestinians in Gaza are growing ever more desperate



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UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Palestinians in Gaza are growing ever more desperate and unless "radically more" is done to address the situation, it is only a matter of time before there is another escalation of violence, the U.N.'s top Mideast envoy told the Security Council on Wednesday.

Nickolay Mladenov said that early May saw the biggest escalation of violence in Gaza since 2014 and that those incidents serve to highlight the fragility of the security situation and threaten the current ceasefire.

"Recent events clearly demonstrate that the specter of violence looms ominously over the territory. Unless radically more is done to address the chronic realities in Gaza, it is not a question of 'if,' but 'when' another escalation will take place," Mladenov said, calling on donors to "support Gaza's reconstruction, recovery and development."

He said the Quartet of Mideast mediators - the U.N., U.S., European Union and Russia - are finalizing a report on the impediments to a two state solution and how to move forward and that a number of countries will meet in Paris within "a matter of days" in hopes of reviving the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Citing a recent study by Tel Aviv University, Mladenov said that close to 60 percent of the Jewish population and 70 percent of Palestinians continue to support peace negotiations.

"The will to advance toward peace clearly exists. What remains glaringly absent is the political will and bold leadership to make genuine progress a reality," he said.

That political will seemed ever more distant Wednesday as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named one of Israel's most polarizing politicians Avigdor Lieberman as defense minister.

The move solidifies Netanyahu's parliamentary majority but risks antagonizing the international community and his own military, clouding already slim hopes for a resumption of peace efforts.

Mladenov did not directly address Lieberman's appointment in speech before the council.

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