UN chief urges resumption of peace talks between Israel, Palestine

10:38, January 22, 2010      

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UN Secretary-general Ban Ki- moon on Thursday called for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and Palestine, and urged Israel to end its settlement activities in occupied Palestinian territory.

"If we do not move forward on the political process soon, we risk sliding backwards," Ban said at a meeting of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People here at the UN Headquarters in New York.

"In the absence of talks, confidence between the parties has diminished," he said.

Ban voiced his support for the U.S.-led efforts in bringing about the negotiations on the final status issues, which included the security of Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees and Jerusalem.

"The international community has repeatedly appealed to Israel to halt settlement construction throughout the occupied Palestinian territory," Ban said.

Stating that Israeli construction violates international law and breaks the Road Map, Ban voiced concerns over continued settlement activity and financial support for expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

"This is in no-one's interest, least of all Israel's," Ban said.

He further reiterated that the settlement activity continues to undermine the trust between the two parties.

In East Jerusalem, Ban said, a series of "worrisome events" have caused tensions but also have the "potential to endanger stability in the region."

"A way must be found, through negotiations, for Jerusalem to emerge as the capital of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all," Ban said.

One year after Israel's three-week military offensive against Hamas, Ban said that the issues leading to the conflict have not been resolved.

"I call on Israel and the relevant Palestinian authorities to conduct, without delay, credible domestic investigations into the many reported allegations of serious human rights violations," Ban added.

He called the situation in Gaza a "grave humanitarian situation " and repeated his call on Israel to "end its unacceptable and counterproductive blockade."

Ban further called for an end to violence and the targeting of Israeli civilians.

"I reiterate my firm commitment to putting an end to the occupation, and to the conflict, through the creation of a State of Palestine living side by side with Israel in peace and security, and through the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region," Ban said.

Source: Xinhua
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