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Ban Ki-Moon advises Israel to change Its Policies

QNA

12 mai 2009,


The U.N.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said "time has come" for Israel to "fundamentally" change its policies in the occupied Palestinian territory and said its "genuine" readiness to negotiate "all core" issues will be the true test of its commitment to the two state solution. Addressing a Ministerial meeting on the Middle East under the Presidency of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov here last night, Ban said "the time has come for Israel to fundamentally change its policies (in the occupied territory) as it has repeatedly promised to do, but not yet done. Action on the ground, together with a genuine readiness to negotiate on all core issues, including Jerusalem, borders and refugees, based on Israel’’s existing commitments, will be the true tests of Israel’’s commitment to the two state solution." Ban’’s statement was an indirect message to new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who recently ruled out the creation of a Palestinian state. Ban said there is a "deep crisis of confidence" among ordinary people on the ground, and for "good reason." Palestinians, he said, continue to see "unacceptable unilateral actions" in East Jerusalem and the remainder of the West Bank - house demolitions, intensified settlement activity, settler violence, and oppressive movement restrictions due to permits, checkpoints, and the barrier, which are are intimately connected to settlements. He insisted that Security Council resolutions, previous agreements and obligations, and the Arab Peace Initiative "give us the framework we need." He said the Arab Peace Initiative offers Israel the opportunity for acceptance and security within the region on the basis of land for peace. "This remains a key framework around which a comprehensive approach to peace can and must be built. I continue to believe strongly in the potential for activating the regional tracks of the peace process, alongside a rejuvenated Palestinian track, including between Israel and Syria, on the basis of land for peace," he said. "The situation on the ground could easily deteriorate unless proper direction is given and real momentum is quickly generated," he insisted. He described the peace process to a bicycle that falls over when left at a standstill. "The situation on the ground could easily deteriorate unelss proper direction is given and real momentum is quickly generated," he warned. Violence and terror, he added, will not bring the Palestinians statehood and dignity, and settlement expansion and closure will not bring Israel security or peace. "No two state solution can be reached if the situation between Gaza and souther Israel continues on its present destructive course, or if Palestinians remain permanently divided," he said and called on the parties to honour all existing agreements and previous commitments and pursue an irreversible effort towards the two state solution, including by fully implementing commitments on the ground.

For her part, US UN envoy Susan Rice insisted that the international community’’s priority "must include a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security" and on the Arab Peace Initiative. She recalled that the US has already revitalized its efforts to "make real" this vision of a comprehensive peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and "we will continue to pursue it vigorously in the months ahead" as President Barack Obama is "personally committed to this goal, and he continues to lead directly on the issue." "Our interest lies not in a lengthy, drawn-out process but in real results. We must not tarry. Lasting progress can be made if we lift our sights and look to a future of peace ... to a Middle East in which Israel livess in peace and security alongside its Arab neighbors, to a region in which the fruits of peace are cherished by all," she said. She recalled that to further advance peace in the region, President Obama will be meeting with key regional leaders over the course of the next several weeks. "We very much look forward to these constructive talks. And we look forward to discussing ways in which the international community can support these efforts with our Quartet partners and other friends and allies." She called on Palestinians and Israelis to meet their obligations under the Roadmap. The Palestinian Authority, she said, "must combat terrorism and incitement directed at Israel ... For its part, Israel must halt settlement activity and dismantle outposts erected since March 2001. Israel must also allow the Palestinians freedom of movement, increased security responsibilities, and access to economic opportunity." She added that all states in the region must now consider steps that they can take to create an atmosphere that will help foster successful negotiations. "This is one reason why we intend to integrate the Arab Peace Initiative into our own approach. In this spirit, we welcome the remarks made by King Abdullah ii of Jordan during his productive recent visit to Washington. As he (king abdullah ii) noted, the United States cannot be left to do all the heavy lifting by itself, and other countries, including Jordan, should do all that they can to shore up our common efforts," she quoted him as saying. She noted that the stakes are high. "Our actions will help determine what kind of future the children of the Middle East will inherit ... whethher they will be able to look ahead to a hopeful, prosperous future, or whether they will be forced to endure round after dismal round of bloodshed, crisis, instability, and terror." "The United States has made its choice. We ask you all to stand with us. Together, let’’s stand for lasting peace," she concluded.

Meanwhile British Foreign Secretary David Miliband warned in a s similar speech before the UNSC that the conflict in the Middle East can erupt again at any time and accused Iran of "exploiting the misery of Palestinians to advance its own goals". "It can sometimes seem inevitable that the conflict in the Middle East will continue for at least a few more years and that the best we can hope for is that it does not get too much worse. But this logic is not only faulty, it is dangerous," he said, adding that the only people who gain from this failure are those committed to violence. The people of the region do not need a new process. They need the confidence that comes from a plan with the timelines and commitment to make it a reality," he insisted. He noted that while the West Bank is in economic limbo, the Palestinian authority is short of funds, Israeli settlement building continues and meanwhile rockets continue to land in Israeli towns, the re-armament of Hezbollah is in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and "Iran exploits the misery of Palestinians to advance its own goals". He insisted that Without a decisive drive for peace, there will be a drift towards more war". He said a comprehensive peace should be based on two states, agreed borders based on those of 1967, Jerusalem as the capital for both states, and a just settlement for refugees. The Israeli Mission to the UN circulated a statement to reporters saying "Israel does not believe that the involvement of the Security Council contributes to the political process in the Middle East ..." Moreover, it said the timing of this Security Council meeting is "inappropriate as the Israeli government is in the midst of conducting a policy review, prior to next week’’s visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the US. For that reason, the statement said, Israel decided not to participate in today’’s ministerial meeting. In fact, Israel was not invited to the meeting which was limited to Ban and the council’’s 15 members. Meanwhile Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu told the council that Palestinians and Israelis are destined to live and work together. "They can either choose to stay as enemies and suffer together or become good neighbours and friends, and prosper together. It is high time that the right choice is made," he said. He noted that as the problems in the region have become interrelated, it is no longer feasible to address them in isolation. "We therefore need a comprehensive approach and believe that the peace process should e reinvigorated in all its tracks without further delay," he said, in an indirect reference to the Syrian track.

At the end of the meeting, Lavrov read out a presidential statement in which the council stressed the "urgency of reaching comprehensive peace in the Middle east. Vigorous diplomatic action is needed to attain the goal set by the international community - lasting peace in the region, based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from viiolence, incitement and terror, and the two-state solution, building upon previous agreements and obligations". The council also reiterated its commitment to the irreversibility of the bilateral negotiations built upon previous agreements and obligations. It further reiterated its call for renewed and uegent efforts by the parties and the internatinal community to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on the vision of a region where two democratic states - Israel and Palestine -live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders. It finally called upon the parties to fulfill their obligations under the performance-based Road-map refraining from any steps that could undermine confidence or prejudice the outcome of negotiations on all core issues.


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