In an open briefing of the Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast said the situation in the region remained very serious. He stressed that without the prospect of some forward movement on the political front, it was difficult to see how the current cycle of violence and counter-violence in the Middle East could be stopped.
Early implementation of the road map of the Quartet, which is comprised of the UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States, would break the current stalemate and allow Israelis and Palestinians to actively pursue their legitimate aspirations across the negotiating table, Mr. Prendergast said.
“The longer its implementation is delayed, the farther apart Israel and the Palestinians will move and the longer it will take for them to build the trust and confidence that is a prerequisite for their mutual security guarantees and, ultimately, a just and comprehensive settlement,” he said.
Mr. Prendergast also welcomed reports about a private meeting last week between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Ahmed Qurei. “This will hopefully mark the beginning of a renewed dialogue between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority towards reaching a cease-fire understanding,” he said.
Meanwhile on the humanitarian front, Mr. Prendergast said that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had warned that by the end of next month, the organization was in danger of running out of resources to feed 1.1 million people in the occupied Palestinian territory. UNRWA’s $94 million appeal had gone largely unheeded, he said, calling on the international community to respond generously to the Agency’s needs.