The moment has come for Israel to take action to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East, Arab nations told the General Assembly’s high-level debate today, calling for an immediate end to settlement activity.
Through its measures, including settlement building, Israel “challenges the will of the overwhelming majority of the international community,” Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem of Syria said at United Nations Headquarters.
“Peace and occupation cannot coexist,” he stressed, calling for a “genuine political will” to end the long-running conflict.
Mr. Al-Moualem appealed for an end to the “lip service” being paid to the need for peace, which, he said, is “categorically different from working for peace.”
He welcomed the engagement by the new United States administration, the UN Security Council, the European Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement, but lamented that the momentum has been dampened by Israeli positions and actions.
For its part, Oman said that it calls “upon Israel to seize the historical opportunity to establish a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East that would achieve security and peaceful coexistence between the States and peoples of the region,” Yousef Bin Al-Alawi Bin Abdulla, the country’s Foreign Minister, said today.
“Squandering this opportunity by Israel will constitute a grave loss for the Israeli people,” he added.
The establishment of an independent Palestinian State on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, among other measures, will help ensure a peaceful coexistence between Arab states and Israel and promote development in the region, Mr. Abdulla told the heads of State and government gathered in New York.
“Peace, based on these principles, will be one of the most important gains of the people of the regions which would lead towards ending regional crises and eradicating the root causes of terrorism,” he underscored.
The conflict is still continuing because of the “lack of a methodology based on a just and balanced peace,” as well as the “conspicuous absence of a binding mechanism for implementation,” Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, said in his address to the Assembly.
The Arab side, he pointed out, has gone to great lengths to delineate its position that peace is both strategic and irreversible. The international community must, therefore, do its part by exerting pressure on Israel to freeze and ultimately dismantle its settlements.
Last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his strong support for Palestinian efforts to complete the building of state institutions in two years, and pledged the full assistance of the UN towards this goal.
The plans to build up Palestinian institutions were announced last month by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and reportedly include disentangling the Palestinian economy’s dependence on Israel and foreign aid, trimming the size of the government, increasing the use of technology and unifying the legal system.
“I strongly support the Palestinian Authority’s plan to complete the building of the state apparatus for Palestine in two years, and pledge the UN’s full assistance,” Mr. Ban said in a message to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee.
“The significance of this goal should not be lost on any of us. Nor can we underestimate the urgency of the moment,” he told the gathering, which was attended by Mr. Fayyad and other officials.
“Either we move forward, towards two States living side-by-side in peace, or backwards towards renewed conflict, deeper despair and long-term insecurity and suffering for Israelis and Palestinians alike. The status quo is untenable.”