Recently revived efforts to resolve the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict must not falter, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Saturday, calling for statesmanship and wisdom by all to keep the peace process moving forward, Xinhua reported.
"If the door to peace closes, it will be very hard to reopen," the secretary-general cautioned in a message to the Arab League summit in Sirte, Libya.
"There is no alternative to a negotiated settlement resulting in the creation of an independent and viable State of Palestine living side by side with the State of Israel in peace and security, " Ban said. "Let us reaffirm our common commitment to this goal, and work together to achieve it in the year ahead."
In his message, delivered by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, the secretary-general recalled the resolve shown by
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when they met in the first round of direct peace talks in 17 months in early September in Washington.
In the Washington talks, the two leaders agreed to work towards a historic Israeli-Palestinian agreement on all permanent status issues within a year.
Welcoming the resumed negotiations, the diplomatic Quartet - comprising the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States - reiterated its call on Israel and the Palestinians to promote an environment conducive to progress, including by refraining from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric.
Ban said in his new message that the continuation and expansion of settlement building in the West Bank is contrary to international law and the Road Map, the internationally approved plan for a two-State solution in which Israel and the Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security.
"Moreover, the expiry of Israel's 10-month partial settlement moratorium, without anything in place to preserve an atmosphere for successful negotiations, has created a major obstacle to progress," he added.
The secretary-general has repeatedly urged Israel to restore the settlement moratorium, most recently at his monthly press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York last Wednesday, during which he also stressed that negotiations should move forward intensively, focused on resolving core issues, "not talks for the sake of talks."