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Ban Ki-moon calls on Israel, Palestine to take 'concrete steps' towards peace

June 27, 2016 10:19 P.M. (Updated: June 28, 2016 12:41 P.M.)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (AFP, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to “take concrete steps to restore hope and a political horizon” during a press conference on Monday after a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Ban denounced a deadly attack in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv earlier this month, noting that “such acts are precisely designed to breed fear and uncertainty.”

“They eat away at trust and hope, drive Palestinians and Israelis farther apart, and strip away a sense of empathy for one another,” Ban said.

Ban continued by slamming the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967, adding that “nearly 50 years of occupation has had a devastating impact on Palestinian lives, undermining the belief in a peaceful resolution to this conflict.”

“It also has not brought security for Israelis,” Ban added.

“Leaders on both sides need to urgently take concrete steps to restore hope and a political horizon so that the Israeli and Palestinian people see a pathway to peace, not a quagmire of recurring violence,” Ban said. “A better tomorrow also means a future free from violence.”

Ban mentioned an upcoming “balanced and fair report” by the the Middle East Quartet, which is expected to form a basis for an ongoing French-led peace initiative to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking directly to Rivlin, Ban said: “Mr. President, I count on your courage and leadership to take the bold actions that will establish a just, comprehensive and lasting peace for the people of Israel and Palestine.”

Members of the Middle East Quartet -- the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States -- as well as members of the Arab League and other nations started working together earlier this month on the French initiative, which has been met with strong opposition by Israeli leaders.

The Palestinian Authority has expressed hope for the initiative, and in April shelved the submission of a new anti-settlement resolution to the UN out of fear that doing so could thwart progress of new French proposals.

However, Israeli leadership has voiced its opposition to the French-led peace initiative, with newly-appointed Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman and Netanyahu issuing a joint statement in support of bilateral negotiations with no Palestinian preconditions.

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 the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.

The binational state -- termed the "one-state solution" -- has increasingly gained support among Palestinians, activist groups, and intellectuals purporting it as the most reasonable way of upholding Palestinian human rights and their internationally recognized right to return to lands they were expelled from during and after the establishment of Israel in 1948.
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