Despite impasse, UN chief urges continued focus on Middle East peace efforts

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Demolished Palestinian structure in the West Bank (2012) © IRIN/Shabtai Gold (file photo)

1 May 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appealed to Israelis and Palestinians to exercise prudence and avoid unilateral steps that would diminish the prospects of resuming negotiations after the latest downturn in the Middle East peace process.

“It is incumbent upon the parties to convince each other anew that they are partners for peace,” Mr. Ban urged in a statement from his spokesperson, calling also on the international community “to uphold its long-stated commitment” to realizing a comprehensive peace settlement.

He highlighted the Security Council debate on 29 April, stating “now is the time for the international community and the parties alike to reflect on how to preserve the prospects for a two-state solution”.

During that meeting, Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, warned the 15-member Council that the current “political stalemate” endangered what many see as perhaps the last chance to achieve the long-sought two-State solution.

Meanwhile, he said, the deadline expired for the nine-months of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, held under the auspices of United States Secretary of State John Kerry.

The talks had been ongoing since last August, resumed after the previous series of talks ended in September 2010 when Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.

“The Secretary-General appeals to all concerned to use this time constructively to find a meaningful path forward,” his spokesperson noted.