Intensified efforts needed to end Middle East conflict, Egypt tells UN debate

24 September 2011

Egypt’s Foreign Minister today issued a call at the United Nations for stepped-up efforts to end the Middle East conflict, accusing Israel of prolonging negotiations for the sake of it and carrying out actions that prevent a solution from being reached.

A day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application for Palestine to become a UN Member State, Mohamed Kamel Amr told the General Assembly’s annual general debate that the application came only “after serious and just efforts towards a final settlement have stalled.”

Mr. Amr said “all possibilities” of substantial progress towards a resolution had dwindled, “especially since the other party insists on keeping the negotiating process forever open.”

He criticized yesterday’s statement from the so-called Middle East Quartet, the diplomatic grouping that brings together the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States, as yet “another failure… to come up with a balanced vision to achieve the goal that we all know and approve of, yet differ on how to realize it.”

The Quartet, which held a meeting yesterday, took note of the Palestinian application for UN membership and reiterated appeals for the Israelis and Palestinians to resume direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions.

The members also proposed a series of steps and a timetable with the aim of reaching a lasting peace agreement by the end of next year.

But Mr. Amr said “it has become totally absurd to carry on talking about a peace process while Israel continues, with total comfort and complete disregard to the objections of the countries of the world, constructing settlements on the Palestinian territories in the West Bank, its alteration of the features of the occupied East Jerusalem, its use of violence against civilians and its blockade of Gaza in violation of international legitimacy and the provisions of international law.

“Regrettably, anyone with a sense of fairness following the situation would see in Israel’s action the embodiment of its continuing evasion from admitting that the only way to achieve its security is through reaching a just settlement with the Palestinians through serious negotiations based on clear parameters and a specific time frame.”

Egypt has chaired the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) since 2009, and Mr. Amr said the movement’s members wanted “a comprehensive and substantial reform” of the UN so it can better respond to today’s biggest challenges.

The priorities for reform, he stressed, must include making the 15-member Security Council more representative and transparent and ensuring the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) have a stronger say in global affairs.

In his address the Egyptian Foreign Minister paid tribute to his country’s people for the pro-democracy movement earlier this year that led to the toppling of a long-term regime, and for the efforts of the country’s armed forces to stand by the people at that time.

“An ideal situation made possible by circumstances that can rarely be repeated. Circumstances that enabled the Egyptians to alter the face of their country in a historic and wonderful way,” he said.

 

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Ban sends Palestinian application for UN membership to Security Council

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