UN warns of "sliding backwards" in stalled Mideast negotiations

10:56, January 28, 2010      

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A resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations needs to move forward for a two- State solution or efforts to forge Middle East peace remain at stake with serious implications, a senior United Nations official warned here Wednesday.

"If we cannot move forward decisively towards a final status agreement, we risk sliding backwards, with potentially profound and negative implications," Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN assistant- secretary-general for political affairs, said during an open Security Council debate on the Middle East, which kicked off here on Wednesday morning.

With the "extremely worrying impasse," Israel must seize their settlement activities which hamper any effort to reach an accord, he said.

He noted that the 10-month suspension of certain settlement activity, which would start in the West Bank settlements, announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last November is "broadly being implemented."

"However, due to the exemptions in the policy and, in some cases, construction continuing contrary to the policy, construction activity has been reported in several settlements," he said.

"We once again strongly urge full implementation of Israel's obligations to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001," Fernandez-Taranco said.

He noted that that the Palestinian Authority continues in their efforts for their state-building agenda where on Jan. 14, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad presented the government's priority interventions for 2010 which include institution-building, strategic infrastructure and delivery services.

"And while we do not under-estimate the difficulties and concerns involved, the Palestinians should continue to engage in earnest, as they are doing, in the effort to bring about resumed negotiations," he said.

In this time of political impasse, Fernandez-Taranco reasserted the role of the international Quartet, which comprises the United States, Russia, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations in diplomatic efforts to mediate for peace in the Middle East in hoping to see a secure Israel living in peace with an independent Palestinian State.

In 2003, the Quartet launched a roadmap for peace, calling for a Palestinian state living alongside Israel.

"We believe that the Quartet can and must play its full role as this juncture, if obstacles are to be overcome and a process is to be resumed with prospects for success," he said. "We remain deeply concerned at the current statement."

Fernandez-Taranco called on both Israelis and Palestinians to implement their Roadmap obligations and resume negotiations on all final status issues for a two-State solution.

Source: Xinhua
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