Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that he will participate in the League of Arab States summit this weekend in Libya amid what he called a crisis of confidence surrounding Israel’s plans to build new settlements in East Jerusalem.
“I say again, here, what I have been repeatedly saying: that settlements are illegal under international law. This must stop,” the Secretary-General told journalists today in New York following an announcement that Israel planned to construct another 20 dwellings in East Jerusalem, in addition to the 1,600 new settlements announced last week.
Earlier in the day, the Secretary-General briefed the Security Council on the meeting of the diplomatic Quartet – comprising of the UN, the European Union (EU), the US and Russia – he attended last Friday in Moscow, and his subsequent visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
Mr. Ban reiterated that there were no alternatives to a two-State solution, and that all final issues should be resolved within 24 months despite possible provocations from extremists.
He also noted that “there have been too many negative facts on the ground” and called for more positive signs, such as the lifting of the blockade of the Gaza Strip and an end to rocket fire from militants based in Gaza.
“Israelis and Palestinians should do much more to build trust and meet their obligations under international law and the Roadmap,” the Secretary-General told the Security Council.
He said that while peace is primarily in the hands of the parties themselves, the international community will continue to play a crucial role.
“At this important juncture, the Quartet is determined to push the parties and monitor the situation,” the Secretary-General said. “The parameters of a solution are well known. Our challenge is to get from here to there.”
Turning to the weekend Arab League summit in Sirte, Libya, the Secretary-General said he planned to urge Arab support for indirect negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian counterparts, otherwise known as proximity talks.
“It is crucial for Arab countries to help create a favourable atmosphere in which the talks can succeed,” Mr. Ban said.
He also noted that during his visit, the Israeli Government had raised the Iranian nuclear issue.
The Secretary-General told the Security Council that he emphasized the international consensus to address this question and the crucial diplomatic process under way.