Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS
On 22 May, at a public meeting, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, briefed the Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
In his briefing, the Special Coordinator said that stability in the Middle East required action on two diplomatic fronts: the search for a solution to the Syrian conflict and the resumption of direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
In relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he hailed the efforts being made by the United States Administration, including the personal engagement of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, to find a way to break the deadlock in the peace process. He also highlighted the renewed interest of regional stakeholders in the question, thanks in part to the visits made by the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and a delegation of Arab ministers and leaders to Washington in April 2013, during which the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative, first proposed in 2002, had been reaffirmed. He reported that there had been a number of incidents during the reporting period, including Israeli restrictions of access to holy sites in East Jerusalem and cases of administrative detention.
He concluded by saying that ending the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic was a matter of great urgency, but at the same time it would be dangerous to assume that a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was less important. The mounting risks to regional stability were real, and it was imperative that everyone should work collectively to lay the foundations for a better future for the Middle East.
In the closed consultations that followed the briefing, the members of the Council welcomed the efforts being made by the United States Administration for the resumption of direct negotiations. The United States delegation announced that Secretary of State John Kerry would undertake another mission to the region beginning on 23 May 2013.
Most of the Council members expressed concern about the current situation in the region, including the announcement of a new plan to build 300 housing units in the West Bank and the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip. They also considered that the restrictions on religious freedom in East Jerusalem were very troubling. Many members condemned the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel and said that both parties should show restraint, promote mutual trust and commit themselves to the resumption of direct talks.
With respect to the Syrian Arab Republic, they welcomed the initiative of the United States and the Russian Federation to convene a conference in Geneva that would bring all the parties together, including the countries affected by the Syrian crisis.