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Ban to host meeting of diplomatic Quartet on Israel-Palestinian peace next week

Ban to host meeting of diplomatic Quartet on Israel-Palestinian peace next week

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (third from right) meets with members of the Middle East Quartet (file photo)
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host a meeting in New York on Monday of his top diplomatic partners engaged in the search for a solution to the Middle East conflict based on the principle of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace.

United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and European Union (EU) High Representative Javier Solana and European Commissioner for External Relations Bettina Ferrero-Waldner will join Mr. Ban at UN Headquarters, while French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner representing the EU Presidency and Quartet envoy Tony Blair are scheduled to participate by video-link.

The Quartet – UN, EU, Russia and US – has been trying to help the parties attain the two-State peace settlement for several years. The process received new impetus from a meeting of the principal actors last year in the US city of Annapolis, with the projected aim of achieving an agreement by the end of this year.

Mr. Ban has voiced regret that this goal no longer seems possible but has said he is encouraged by the fact that the two sides have succeeded in creating trust and a framework for negotiations where none had existed two years ago.

In a message yesterday to the UN Latin American and Caribbean Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian peace, held in the Chilean capital, Santiago, Mr. Ban said the international community recognizes the urgent need to continue supporting the parties in their efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement on all permanent status issues.

“The goal of such an agreement is clear: an end to the occupation that began in 1967, and the establishment of a Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel,” the message added.

Meanwhile, 54 truckloads of goods, including 11 containing humanitarian supplies, were allowed into Gaza from Israel today, but the fuel pipelines remained closed, the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) reported.

UN officials, including Mr. Ban, have repeatedly called on Israel to urgently permit the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s 1.5 million civilians. At the same time, Mr. Ban has reiterated his condemnation of rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in Gaza against Israeli civilian targets, which Israel has cited as a reason for the closures.