20 September 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Israeli President today discussed the recent launch of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks, with the United Nations chief stressing that negotiations are the only way to resolve all final status issues and achieve peace in the Middle East.
Mr. Ban and Shimon Peres also spoke of the need to maintain calm on the ground and to create a conducive environment for successful negotiations, according to the Secretary-General’s spokesperson.
Following months of proximity talks, direct negotiations were launched earlier this month by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, when they came together in Washington D.C. under United States auspices.
During their meeting at UN Headquarters, which took place on the sidelines of a high-level summit to review progress on the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Mr. Ban also stressed the significance of extending and expanding the Israeli Government’s settlement restraint.
Israeli security concerns emanating from Gaza were also discussed in the meeting. In addition, the Secretary-General repeated his condemnation of rocket attacks on Israel, and spoke of the positive impact of the change in policy towards Gaza, including his hope that it would be sustained and further expanded.
The Israeli-Palestinian talks came up during Mr. Ban’s separate meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan, during which he highlighted the support of the Quartet – the Middle East diplomatic grouping comprising the UN, the United States, the European Union and Russia – in helping the parties achieve a final agreement within a year.
He also stressed the need for a conducive regional environment to help reach that goal.
To review progress in the talks and in the overall search for peace in the region, Mr. Ban will host a meeting of the Quartet principals tomorrow in New York.
In his meeting with the King, the Secretary-General also praised the positive role of Jordan in Palestinian State-building efforts.
Mr. Ban also discussed the launch of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, with whom he also spoke about France’s continued support for UN peacekeeping activities, particularly in Lebanon, as well as the situation in Côte d’Ivoire and the MDG summit.