As Syria crisis roils Middle East, Ban says Israeli-Palestinian peace remains urgent priority

Israeli soldiers search a Palestinian's car at the Hawera checkpoint outside the town of Nablus in the West Bank. Photo: IRIN/Kobi Wolf (file)

18 June 2013 – With spiralling violence in Syria stoking tension in the Middle East, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said “we must not lose sight of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” whose resolution was no less urgent.

Calling for a “clear political horizon” to break the impasse and maximize present momentum, Mr. Ban told the UN Asia and Pacific International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, in a message delivered by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, that “the coming weeks will be critical.”

“I cannot stress enough the risk of missing the current window of opportunity,” he told the dozens of Government delegates, academics, regional experts and civil society representatives gathered in Beijing for the two-day meeting to discuss reviving the collective international engagement towards a two-State solution.

He told the meeting, organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, that it is “imperative” that everyone in the international community work collectively to make 2013 a positive year for Israeli-Palestinian peace and peace in the whole region.

Similarly, in his keynote address, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco voiced hope that, with the decisive momentum of the United States and support of the international community, the parties will demonstrate the political courage necessary to overcome decades of mistrust and conflict, and engage in meaningful negotiations.

However, he said that, frankly speaking, “the odds are not favourable,” with the gap between the parties widening, and with mistrust and skepticism at an “all-time high.” Peacemaking in such conditions is daunting and, some would say that the “time is not right and the situation is not ripe, or that it is already too late.”

It might be true that “it is the last chance,” but the UN believes “we have no other choice than to keep trying,” he said. Providing a credible diplomatic horizon needs the concerted action and support of the international community and key regional stakeholders, he said, pledging UN support for any credible initiative.

At the same time, he cautioned that rushing the parties back to the table without the necessary framework in place and “buy-in” from both sides will be counter-productive. “The risk and price of failure are too high.”


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Amid turmoil in Mideast, UN envoy urges ‘concerted action’ to resume Israeli-Palestinian talks

Related Stories





In-depth Interviews