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Source: Secretary-General
25 May 2010

Istanbul, Turkey, 25 May 2010 - Secretary-General's message to UN International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process [delivered by Robert Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process]

I send greetings to this United Nations International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, organized by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

I thank the Government of Turkey for hosting this gathering. I value Turkey's active contribution to regional dialogue and preventive diplomacy, including its support for Israeli-Palestinian peace, Palestinian reconciliation, and comprehensive peace in the region.

I am pleased that, after a prolonged period of delay and setbacks, proximity talks are finally under way. I commend President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu on this step and urge them to engage on the core issues in earnest, with a view to moving to direct negotiations as soon as possible. I appreciate the active role being played by the United States and pledge my full support for this effort.

As talks proceed, we must work with the parties to ensure that further steps are taken to build mutual trust and more positive conditions on the ground. The parties must avoid provocations or breaches of the Roadmap or international law, which will only create new crises of confidence. Israel must exercise particular restraint in East Jerusalem, where demolitions, evictions and settlement expansion should be halted. Jerusalem remains a permanent status issue, vital to both parties, and a way should be found for the city to emerge from negotiations as the capital of both Israel and Palestine, with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all. The Palestinian Authority, for its part, must continue its positive efforts in fulfilling Roadmap commitments to build institutions and promote security, in the context of its widely supported statebuilding programme.

In Gaza, all actors should support measures to promote calm, end closure, prevent illicit weapons smuggling, and achieve Palestinian unity within the framework of the legitimate Palestinian Authority and the commitments of the PLO. I am particularly concerned that the current closure creates unacceptable suffering, hurts forces of moderation and empowers extremists, and I call for the closure policy to end. I welcome the modest progress that has been achieved with the Government of Israel facilitating a number of priority projects and widening the list of commercial goods allowed into Gaza. But so much more must be done and we will continue to press hard for this objective.

Finally, let us also recognize that prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace will be boosted by a favorable regional environment, including a comprehensive approach to peace – including support from all regional parties for Israeli-Palestinian talks, a resumed political track between Israel and Syria, and full realization of the potential of the Arab Peace Initiative. The United Nations remains committed to the end of the 1967 occupation, the creation of an independent Palestinian State, and a just, lasting and comprehensive regional peace, in accordance with Security Council resolutions, previous agreements, and international law.

In this spirit, I wish you fruitful discussions and a successful meeting.

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