Terming Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement that he will not run for re-election “a loud and clear wake-up call,” a senior United Nations official today called on Israel to freeze all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.
“Either we go forward decisively to a two-State solution in accordance with Security Council resolutions, or we risk sliding backwards,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry said after meeting Mr. Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
“I conveyed to President Abbas the Secretary-General’s strong support for his leadership. But it is clear that this precious asset is now in jeopardy. I believe President Abbas’ announcement last week is a loud and clear wake-up call. I repeat the Secretary-General’s call for a freeze on all settlement activity.”
The UN is a co-sponsor, together with the European Union, Russia and the United States, of the Roadmap peace plan that seeks a two-State solution to the Middle East conflict, with both Israel and Palestine living side by side within secure and recognized borders.
Israel occupied Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem which it annexed, proclaiming the whole city its eternal united capital in a move not recognized by the international community, in the 1967 war. Since then it has built dozens of settlements in the West Bank and areas of East Jerusalem, although it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Last month, in a message to the Jerusalem International Forum in Rabat, Morocco, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the city, revered as sacred by Jews, Christians and Muslims, must be the capital of two States – Israel and Palestine – with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all, if peace in the Middle East is to be achieved.