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5 Jun, 2013

Israel Must Stop Settlements, End Occupation, U.N. Chief Tells Jewish Global Forum


United Natios, Jun 3 2013 (UN News Centre) — Israel has a right to live in peace and security, but needs to halt settlement activity and take concrete action to end the occupations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today reiterated, cautioning that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is approaching “a point of no return.”

“The occupation, now nearing half a century, is not acceptable morally, politically, strategically – humanly,” Mr. Ban told the American Jewish Committee Global Forum in a video message. “I know many of you fully recognize that no interests are truly served by maintaining the status quo,” he added.

In his message, Mr. Ban also reiterated support for “the two-State solution”, referring to the internationally endorsed plan for both Israel and Palestine to live side by side in peace within secure borders. The plan is championed by the US Government and Secretary of State, John Kerry, who addressed the AJC earlier today.

“The United Nations will do all it can to help resume a meaningful peace process,” Mr. Ban said.

Mr. Ban spoke in May separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, stressing the need for the parties to create the conditions conducive to resuming meaningful negotiations.

He has repeatedly stated that 2013 will be a critical year for the peace process, and urged both leaders to make a concerted push to salvage the two-State solution.

Addressing the World Leaders Plenary, Mr. Ban noted that this year’s forum takes place amid crisis across the Middle East stemming from the Syrian conflict. Since it started in March 2011, the fighting between the Syrian Government and opposition forces seeking to oust President Bashar Al-Assad has killed more than 70,000 people, and left 6.8 million people in need. In addition, the UN estimates that some 1.5 million Syrians have fled their country to escape conflict.

“All those providing arms, or thinking of providing arms, must be mindful that this conflict will note be resolved through military means,” Mr. Ban said. “The current window of diplomatic opportunity is the best change for a negotiated solution we have had in nearly a year.”

Secretary-General Ban is supporting a diplomatic solution to the conflict through the Joint Special Representative of the UN and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis, Lakhdar Brahimi.

Mr. Ban also noted that for there has been firing across the Golan disengagement lines for the first time in decades. UN peacekeepers have been in the area monitoring the 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel following their 1973 war.

Dozens of UN peacekeepers in the area have also been seized and safely released.