Two-pronged solution needed to end Middle East conflict, Israel tells UN

28 September 2010

The long-running conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is based on both emotional and practical problems, Israel’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today, stressing the need for a two-staged solution.

The long-running conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is based on both emotional and practical problems, Israel’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today, stressing the need for a two-staged solution.

“The emotional problems are first and foremost the utter lack of confidence between the sides and issues such as Jerusalem, recognition of Israel as the nation-State of the Jewish people and refugees,” Avigdor Liberman said at the Assembly’s annual high-level debate.

The focus, he said, should be on creating a long-term intermediate agreement that could take decades.

“We need to raise an entire new generation that will have mutual trust and will not be influenced by incitement and extremist messages,” said Mr. Liberman, who also serves as Deputy Prime Minister.

“To achieve a final status agreement, we must understand that the primary practical obstacle is the friction between the two nations.”

This friction exists in all instances where there are two nations with different religions, languages and competing claims to the same land, the official said, citing the Balkans, the Caucasus, Africa, the Far East and the Middle East as examples.

“Where effective separation has been achieved, conflict has either been avoided, or has been dramatically reduced or resolved,” he added, pointing to the former Yugoslav republics, the split of Czechoslovakia and the independence of Timor-Leste.

“Thus, the guiding principle for a final status agreement must not be land-for-peace but rather, exchange of populated territory,” Mr. Liberman said, stressing that he is referring to moving borders to reflect demographic realities, not to moving populations.

Far from being an “extraordinary insight,” he said that it has long been accepted that the “mismatch between borders and nationalities is a recipe for conflict.”

The Foreign Minister spotlighted that there is no divide within Israeli politics between those who want peace and those who do not.

“Everyone wants peace and the controversy in Israel centres on the specific question of how to achieve this piece, how to reach security in the region,” he said.

Despite years of effort, the process is still in a deadlock, the Israeli official said.

“We are ready for a fair solution and we are ready to cooperate with the international community,” he said. “However, we are not ready to compromise our national security or the vital interests of the State of Israel.”

Yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced disappointment at Israel’s move to not extend the moratorium on the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, and expressed concern over provocative actions taking place on the ground.

He recalled last week’s statement by the Middle East Quartet – the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States – which he said reflected the united call of the international community urging Israel to extend the settlement restraint policy.

Mr. Ban reiterated that settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law. He urged Israel to fulfil its obligation under the Roadmap obligation to freeze settlement activity.

“The Secretary-General supports ongoing efforts to find a way to continue peace talks in an environment conducive to progress. This is the only route to a viable Palestinian State living in peace with a secure Israel,” a statement issued by his spokesperson said.

Mr. Ban expressed his disappointment later yesterday directly to Mr. Liberman.

During the meeting, the Secretary-General reiterated his belief that direct negotiations are the only way for Israel and the Palestinians to resolve all final status issues.

 

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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Ban ‘disappointed’ at Israel’s move not to extend settlements moratorium

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced disappointment at Israel’s move to not extend the moratorium on the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, and expressed concern over provocative actions taking place on the ground.