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FM addresses UN as Palestine representative for first time

Jan. 23, 2013 9:32 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 26, 2013 7:05 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority's foreign minister on Wednesday addressed the UN Security Council as a representative of a world-recognized state for the first time.

"A new era has begun," Riyad al-Malki said, adding that the General Assembly's acceptance of Palestine as a non-member state marked "the turning point for making peace and security a reality between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples."

The foreign minister said he hoped the Security Council would also pass a September 2011 request to accept Palestine as a full member of the UN.

Al-Malki said the window for the two-state solution was rapidly closing. "There can be no one in this chamber today who can deny this."

Settlements are the main obstacle to the two-state solution, al-Malki said, adding that a halt to construction was a legal obligation and not a precondition.

Since the UN's acceptance of Palestine as a state, Israel has "persisted with the path of occupation and conflict and fear-mongering," al-Malki said, pointing to Israel's increased settlement building and withholding of Palestinian revenue.

The foreign minister also condemned violence against Palestinian civilians and their property by Israeli settlers and forces.

PA viability 'increasingly at stake'

UN envoy Robert Serry also addressed the council, and said "concerted action" was needed to salvage the two-state solution, but that regional partners were questioning the effectiveness of international efforts to end the conflict.

"Regional and international partners are increasingly alarmed that the only way to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict in accordance with Security Council resolutions and international law is slipping away," the special coordinator for the Mideast peace process said.

Serry noted Israel's "dramatic increase" in settlement announcements and withholding of Palestinian Authority revenue. He called on Israel to resume transfers of Palestinian funds "without delay."

Serry told the council the Palestinian Authority's budget deficit had exceeded $1 billion and warned: "We should be under no illusion: the viability of the Palestinian Authority will be increasingly at stake if its standing is based on political 'quick sand'.

"Ultimately, there is no future for the Palestinian Authority without a two-state solution," he added.

Serry expressed concern at Israel's increased use of live fire in the West Bank and briefed the council on a rise in Israeli operations and arrests, as well as tensions in security coordination between Israel and the PA.

"All of the above paints a grim picture and absent a new perspective on the political track, I fear such negative trends will only worsen," he said.

On Gaza, Serry called on Israel to extend the fishing limit it imposes along the Gaza coastline to at least nine nautical miles and to allow unrestricted imports of construction material.

"Further measures to lift the closure should include transfers of goods between Gaza and West Bank, exports to Israel and beyond, and as needed increased capacity at Kerem Shalom and a re-opening of Sufa crossing," the UN envoy said.

Serry concluded that Israeli and Palestinian leaders must seriously engage in efforts toward a two-state solution, warning that "the consequences for inaction could be dire for everyone."

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