Appeals in UN Security Council for resumption of Israeli-Palestinian talks

10:06, April 22, 2011      

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The UN Security Council on Thursday heard repeated calls for the resumption of talks between Israelis and Palestinians amidst some of the worst violence in Gaza and Israel in two years.

UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe lamented the continued stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians in the face of the violence.

The stalemate persisted even though international organizations have declared the Palestinian Authority's government institutions are functioning as a viable state, he said.

Pascoe noted the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee Chair had also concluded that the Palestinian Authority was above the threshold for a functioning state in key sectors. But he cautioned that the achievements were limited and did not apply yet to East Jerusalem, much of Area C and Gaza.

Area C, about 60 percent of the West Bank, is where most Jewish settlements are built. They are illegal under international law.

The highest levels of violence in Gaza and Israel since the Israeli military's Operation Cast Lead more than two years ago is blamed for deaths and injuries on both sides due to rockets fired into Israel and Israeli retaliation, Pascoe said.

He expressed concern, as well, at ongoing Israeli settlement activity and demolition of Palestinian structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, calling on Israel to respect international humanitarian law.

Pascoe was the first among several of the more than two dozen speakers during the day-long debate to condemn the April 4 slaying of actor and director Juliano Mer-Khamis, a symbol of co-existence and peace.

Ambassador Li Baodong, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, said Beijing "hoped the parties concerned would effectively observe a cease-fire commitment made recently, exercise restraint, refrain from unilateral provocation and avoid innocent civilian casualties in order to stabilize the situation and restore calmness as soon as possible."

China was opposed to Israel's settlement activities, which is not conducive to breaking the stalemate nor building political mutual trust, he said.

"We hope Israel would exercise restraint and caution, adopt practical measures to create conditions for early resumption of the talks between the two sides," he added.

The ambassador called on the international community to be more united and coordinated in its increased efforts to promote peace talks and secure advancement of the peace process.

Riyad Mansour, the permanent Palestinian observer to the United Nations, said the dramatic developments taking place in the Middle East were expressions of the aspirations for which the Palestinian people had been struggling for decades.

He said Israel continued to defy the international community with "total impunity," resulting in continued conflict, loss of life and turmoil, to the detriment of Palestinians and Israelis and global peace and security.

"The time for decisive action is now," Mansour said, warning that delay meant more bloodshed or the possible collapse of two- state prospects.

He called on the Council and Diplomatic Quartet of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States to uphold their commitments, saying that Israeli defiance must no longer be rewarded and that Israel must be called on to demonstrate its commitment to peace with actions, not just empty words.

Mansour sought an end to Israeli settlement activities and actions that he said were aimed at altering the Arab character of the territories.

He reaffirmed Palestinian determination to end the occupation and establish an independent state by the target of September 2011, set by the Quartet and endorsed by the UN General Assembly.

Israeli Ambassador Meron Reuben said the debate was taking place as historic changes were under way in the Middle East which held the promise of spreading new freedom and prosperity in the region.

He said Hamas launched from Gaza about 90 rockets and 141 mortars at civilians throughout Southern Israel.

"There is no question about the targets of these attacks," Reuben said, pointing out major Israeli centers, home to hundreds of thousands of people, were targeted.

Just two weeks ago, Hamas fired an anti-tank missile that had been smuggled into Gaza, to strike and destroy a school bus in southern Israel. The bus driver was injured and a 16-year-old boy on board later died from the attack.

"As residents of New York, we see the yellow buses that bring children to school. Some in this room entrust these buses to transport their children home," he said, and asked Council members: "Can you imagine how you would feel if an anti-tank missile was deliberately fired at such a bus in Manhattan or Brooklyn?"

Tine Morch Smith, Norway's deputy permanent representative to the UN, lauded the Palestinian Authority's state-building efforts, saying, "For all practical purposes the state-building process has been completed. The road towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, however, goes through negotiations. "

"Israel needs to take further steps to dismantle restrictions and measures in Area C, allow access to land and water in these areas, and to allow a coherent trade strategy," she said.

Source: Xinhua
 
 
     
 
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