|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6150th Meeting (PM)
UN ENVOY DESCRIBES ‘CONCERTED PUSH’ TO REINVIGORATE MIDDLE EAST PEACE EFFORTS,
URGES ISRAELIS, PALESTINIANS TO CAREFULLY ASSESS OPPORTUNITY BEFORE THEM
Says World Community Needs Both Israeli, Palestinian Governments Clearly
Committed To a Two-State Solution Achieved Peacefully Through Negotiations
Robert Serry, Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, told the Security Council today that diplomatic efforts to reinvigorate the Middle East peace process had continued, and recent meetings -- including of the Quartet on Friday -- were part of a concentrated push to create the conditions for re-launching efforts for a two-State solution.
In the monthly briefing on the situation in the Middle East to the Security Council, Mr. Serry urged both Israelis and Palestinians to carefully assess the opportunity before them to serve the legitimate interests of their peoples. He said that Israelis had an opportunity to achieve lasting peace and recognition within secure and recognized borders, and that Palestinians had an opportunity to see the occupation end and a Palestinian State emerge. “We need both Israeli and Palestinian Governments clearly committed to a two-State solution achieved peacefully through negotiations on all core issues; to implementing their Road Map commitments; and to changing the dynamics in Gaza,” he said, continuing: “International determination is stronger than ever before to ensure that commitments made are commitments monitored and commitments kept.”
He said that United States President Barack Obama’s 4 June speech in Cairo had reiterated his commitment to the creation of a Palestinian State and the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. On 14 June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had stated that the Israeli Government would accept a Palestinian State, but under stringent conditions related to territory, security, refugees, Jerusalem and the character of the State of Israel. The Secretary-General, however, had stated last month that “actions 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 test of Israel’s commitment to the two-State solution.”
He said the Israeli Government had failed to commit to a freeze on all settlement activities. Despite efforts to remove three minor outposts, illegal settlement construction continued across the West Bank. Reports that approval of new construction in settlements continued as before were extremely concerning. During the reporting period, settlers had injured seven Palestinians in violent attacks and burnt several fields, among other things. There continued to be inadequate enforcement of the rule of law on violent settlers. Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem remained closed and demolition orders continued to be issued in East Jerusalem and in the remainder of the West Bank, with approximately 4,500 orders outstanding. Movement restrictions continued, as did search and arrest operations throughout the West Bank.
Turning to the Palestinian side, he said that President Mahmoud Abbas had responded to the Prime Minister’s speech by insisting that Israel freeze settlement activity before negotiations could resume. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had outlined the intention to build the institutions of a Palestinian State in two years. An immediate challenge facing the Palestinian Authority, however, was financial. The only sustainable way to revive the Palestinian economy was for the Authority to receive sufficient finances from tax revenues, and that could happen only if Israel eased closure measures and created an enabling environment for economic growth.
He said the Palestinian Authority continued efforts to reform its security services and criminal justice system and continued to take action against militants, resulting in violent confrontations with Hamas in the West Bank. Another challenge to Palestinian state-building was reuniting Gaza and the West Bank. Building Palestinian statehood on the basis of divided societies, separate institutions and competing legitimacies was unsustainable. Hamas must re-evaluate its stance towards a two-State solution and the resort to violence against civilians, and commit to genuine political pluralism. Fatah and Hamas delegations had met in Cairo on 8 June and were scheduled to meet again on 28 June. It was crucial that Egypt’s efforts be supported by the international community and by all regional parties.
He said the unresolved crisis in Gaza had negative repercussions on all efforts to advance the peace process and wreaked havoc on the fabric of civilian life in Gaza. Food and medicines were entering Gaza, as was a shipment of livestock, but the overall quantity and range of goods remained grossly insufficient. About 70 trucks per day had entered Gaza in the past month, compared with 392 trucks per day in May 2007. It was completely unacceptable that no reconstruction materials were allowed into Gaza.
There had been a notable drop in violence during the reporting period, with two rockets and seven mortars launched into Israel, and six Palestinians killed in clashes with the Israelis. There had been efforts on the part of Gaza de facto authorities to enforce a cessation of rocket fire. Efforts continued to prevent the re-supply of illicit weapons into Gaza. Hamas continued to state its readiness to resume negotiation on Corporal Gilad Shalit, in exchange for the release of more than 11,000 prisoners held in Israeli jails. Justice Richard Goldstone had arrived in Gaza to conduct the first phase of fact-finding for the Human Rights Council. The Israeli Government had not extended its cooperation to that mission.
The United Nations continued to believe strongly in the potentials for activating the regional tracks of the peace process, he said. The situation in the Syrian Golan had remained quiet, although Israeli settlement activity had continued. The United Nations continued to support the Arab Peace Initiative and to support the convening of an international conference in Moscow.
In Lebanon, parliamentary elections had been held on 7 June in an atmosphere of calm. According to international observation missions, the elections had been largely free and fair. Candidates from the 14 March Coalition had won 71 out of 128 seats. Since election day, a climate of dialogue and cooperation had prevailed. Syria and Lebanon now operated functioning embassies in each other’s capitals. The overall situation in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon’s (UNIFIL) area of operations had remained generally quiet, but Israeli air violations had continued on an almost daily basis.
The meeting started at 3:10 p.m. and adjourned at 3:30 p.m.
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