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UN applauds Israeli PM, defense minister for supporting two-state solution

May 31, 2016 5:22 P.M. (Updated: June 3, 2016 10:11 A.M.)
UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov. (AFP/Haidar Hamdani, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov applauded on Tuesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman for their recent statements in support of the two-state solution and the revival of Arab peace negotiations.

“I welcome yesterday’s statements by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the newly appointed defense minister on the Arab Peace Initiative (API). This can help advance negotiations on achieving a two-state solution,” Mladenov said in a statement.

Following the swearing in of far-right politician Lieberman as defense minister, he and Netanyahu issued a joint statement in support of reviving a 2002 Arab peace initiative for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which called for an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territory in exchange for full normalization of ties with Arab states.

Netanyahu and Lieberman also reiterated support for statements recently made by Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi promoting similar negotiations, and threw their support behind the two-state solution.

Mladenov’s in his statement described al-Sisi’s speech as a call for Israelis and Palestinians to “continue the historic step toward peace taken by Israel and Egypt 37 years ago,” referring to a peace treaty signed between the Israel and Egypt following the Camp David Accords.

“The Middle East Quartet (the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States) has repeatedly emphasized the significance and importance of the API with its vision for a comprehensive settlement of the conflict and as an opportunity for building a regional security framework,” he said.

“This opportunity should not be missed and must be followed up with concrete and timely action.”

Shortly after the release of Mladenov statement, Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said in a statement regarding imminent settler construction plans in occupied East Jerusalem: “While Netanyahu and Lieberman just backed the two-state solution, on the ground they are supporting actions that are making a future compromise much more difficult.”

“By approving the construction on the eve of Ramadan,” the statement read, “Netanyahu and Lieberman risk igniting the region and compromising Israelis' security for the benefit of extreme settlers.”

All past efforts towards peace negotiations have failed to end the decades-long Israeli military occupation or bring Palestinians closer to an independent, contiguous state.

The most recent spate of negotiations led by the US collapsed in April 2014.

Israel claimed the process failed because the Palestinians refused to accept a US framework document outlining the way forward, while Palestinians pointed to Israel's ongoing settlement building and the government's refusal to release veteran prisoners.

A number of Palestinian activists have criticized pushes for a two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.

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