11 May 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need to generate momentum in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, warning that the situation on the ground could worsen easily without fresh efforts by both sides as well as the international community.
“After the inconclusive results of last year’s negotiations, and the bloodshed in Gaza, the last three months witnessed almost no progress on the two key resolutions – 1850 and 1860,” Mr. Ban told today’s Security Council meeting, chaired by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The Council, in the two resolutions adopted earlier this year, called for a durable and fully respected ceasefire, prevention of the illicit supply of weapons to Gaza; reopening of the crossings in accordance with the Agreement on Movement and Access; and progress on Palestinian reconciliation under the legitimate Palestinian Authority.
“The challenge is to begin implementing transformative changes on the ground; and to kick-start a renewed and irreversible drive to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian agreement,” stated Mr. Ban.
The Secretary-General cited the need to be “determined as we are patient, as insistent as we are supportive, as principled as we are empathetic to the very real concerns of both parties,” adding that the parties need confidence that the process will address their vital interests.
They also need confidence that commitments made will be commitments monitored and commitments kept, he added, noting a “deep crisis of confidence” among ordinary people on the ground.
Mr. Ban noted that in the period ahead, United States President Barack Obama will host the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and key regional parties in Washington. He also expected that the Middle East Quartet – comprising the UN, European Union, Russia and US – will meet soon.
“Like a bicycle that falls over when left at a standstill, the situation on the ground could easily deteriorate unless proper direction is given and real momentum is quickly generated,” he stated.
“Violence and terror will not bring the Palestinians statehood and dignity, and settlement expansion and closure will not bring Israel security or peace. And no two-State solution can be reached if the situation between Gaza and southern Israel continues on its present destructive course, or if Palestinians remain permanently divided,” said the Secretary-General.
Mr. Ban called on the parties to honour all existing agreements and previous commitments and pursue an irreversible effort towards the two-State solution, including by fully implementing commitments on the ground.
“I also believe the international community’s credibility is at stake,” he added. “We are a long way from where we hoped to be when we embarked on a fresh push for peace less than two years ago. However, I take heart that there is a deep consensus about the scale of the challenge and the importance of meeting it.”
Mr. Ban added he remains “extremely worried” about the situation in and around Gaza, with internal Palestinian divisions and Israeli-Hamas tensions trapping the civilian population in a “vortex of hopelessness.”
He noted that nearly four months after the conflict in Gaza – in which 3,800 houses and 2 health care centres were destroyed, and 34,000 homes, 15 hospitals, 41 health care centres and 282 schools sustained varying degrees of damage – it is difficult to get anything beyond food and medicine into the area. “This is completely unacceptable,” he stressed.