Photo: United Nations Security Council
A United Nations regional meeting to support Israeli-Palestinian peace opened in Uruguay today, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for a halt to Israel’s settlement building in occupied territory, an end to all expressions of violence and the punishment of those perpetrating it.
The talks have been suspended since Israel ended a settlement moratorium last September. Under the Road Map, promoted by the diplomatic Quartet comprising the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States, Israel and an independent State of Palestine established on territory occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War would live side by side in peace and security within recognized borders.
The Secretary-General called on Israel to further ease its blockade of Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction. He also condemned escalating rocket fire from Gaza towards Israel, noting that it indiscriminately targets civilians, as well as the killing and wounding of Gaza civilians – including children – by Israeli fire. He reiterated his “strong condemnation” of the recent deadly bomb attack in West Jerusalem.
“Both sides must protect civilians and act in conformity with international law to prevent further escalation and loss of life,” he said. “Time is of the essence in realizing the two-State solution. The occupation that started in 1967 is morally and politically unsustainable, and must end. The Palestinians have a legitimate right to the establishment of an independent and viable State of their own.
The two-day meeting will focus on issues linked to encouraging support from Latin American and Caribbean States for restarting the Israeli-Palestinian political process, including the impact of settlement expansion, the question of Jerusalem, building trust, and diplomatic recognition of Palestinian statehood by governments of the region, including Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
The Committee was set up in 1975 by the General Assembly to enable the Palestinians to exercise their rights to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty and to return to their homes and property from which they were displaced.