As a stalemate in the Arab-Israeli peace process continues for both Israel and Palestine, the prospects for regional peace are fading, the United Nations political chief said today.
According to Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, the UN is concerned that it has not yet seen the progress required for sustained negotiations that could lead to a successful results.
At the Security Council meeting on the Middle East, Mr. Feltman said while prospects for peace seem to grow dimmer, the world’s body continues to hope that leaders on both sides will recognize and seize the historic opportunity that is now before them.
He adds that both parties must start seriously working toward the goal of reaching a peace agreement that meets the legitimate aspirations of their people.
Mr. Feltman underlines that the primary path forward to resolving the continuing regional impasse remained the two-state solution.
“It is clear that the two-state solution remains the best available and most realistic option for the Israelis and Palestinians.” -Mr. Feltman
In March this year, the United Nations and its diplomatic partners known as the “Qurtet” urged Israel and Plaestine to resume peace negotiations without delay.
The Quartet also called on both parties to refrain from provocative actions.
The Quartet is the diplomatic grouping bringing together the UN with the European Union, Russia and the United States.
During informal consultations in New York, the Quartet along with Quartet Representative Tony Blair, discussed the grave situation in Gaza and southern Israel.
The group has expressed its serious concern for the recent escalation and called for calm.
Mr. Ban is gravely concerned at the latest escalation between Gaza and Israel, and once again civilians are paying a terrible price.
He said rocket attacks out of Gaza against Israeli civilian areas are unacceptable and must stop immediately.
The Quartet re-affirmed that the current situation in Gaza, including the humanitarian and human rights situation of the civilian population, is unsustainable, unacceptable.
The Quartet has recognized that Israel has legitimate security concerns that must continue to be safeguarded, and believes efforts to maintain security while enabling movement and access for Palestinian people and goods are critical.
The Quartet supports the proximity talks toward the resumption, without pre-conditions, of direct bilateral negotiations that resolve all final status issues as previously agreed by the parties. The Quartet believes these negotiations should lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties within 24 months, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours
Direct talks between Israel and Palestine stalled in late September 2010 after Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory. That decision prompted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which had only resumed a few weeks earlier after a two-year hiatus.
Reports say the highest level of violence in Gaza and Israel since Operation Cast Lead took place more than three years ago.
Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas, fired 111 mortar shells and 155 rockets while Israel conducted six incursions and 57 air strikes into Gaza since the last briefing to the Security Council. One Israeli child was killed and two civilians were injured by Palestinian rocket fire. Some 19 Palestinian militants and 15 civilians were killed, while 17 militants and 60 civilians were injured, as a result of Israeli military actions.
Israel captured East Jerusalem along with the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War in 1967, but annexed the city as its united capital in a move not recognized by the international community. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of their future State.