United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a conference call today with his key international partners in efforts to broker a Middle East peace to discuss a joint approach to the new Palestinian unity government.
The Secretary-General had previously welcomed reports that negotiations towards the formation of such a government had been completed.
United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, current president of the European Union (EU), High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and European Commissioner for External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner took part in the consultations of the Quartet, which come ahead of Mr. Ban’s own visit to the region.
Ever since Hamas won elections early last year and formed a Government, the Quartet has affirmed that assistance to any Palestinian government would inevitably be reviewed by donors against that government’s commitment to the principles of nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap.
The Quartet, which champions the Road Map peace plan of a two-State solution to the conflict, has reiterated these three principles several times since Palestinians reached an agreement in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, last month to form a unity government with Hamas, Fatah, independent figures and representatives of other Palestinian parties,. The Quartet had encouraged the efforts of President Abbas to form a national unity government.
On his trip to the region beginning this week, Mr. Ban will visit Egypt, the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel and Jordan, and attend the Arab League Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 28 March, before going on to Lebanon. He will be back at UN Headquarters in New York on 2 April.
“The Secretary-General believes that we are seeing a renewed dynamism in diplomacy in the Arab world,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, Michele Montas, told a new briefing today, adding that his main priorities for the trip will be the Middle East Peace process, stability in Lebanon, the Darfur and the UN role within the Iraq Compact.
“The UN has had crucial political and operational roles in the Middle East for over 60 years,” she said, stressing that the region is high on Mr. Ban’s agenda. “The Secretary General wants to see first hand the UN peace operations and presences in the region. He also wants to hear first hand from the people in the region the problems and challenges they face,” she added.
At the Riyadh summit, he wants to express his support to ongoing efforts to re-energize the Middle East peace process and bring about peace and stability in Lebanon, Iraq, and in the broader Middle East context, she said.