With talks at ‘impasse,’ Israelis, Palestinians must carefully consider next steps, UN official says

20 May 2014

Briefing the Security Council today on what he called an “impasse” in talks between Israelis and Palestinians, a top United Nations political official said it was critical to restart negotiations, but just as important for the parties to consider paths to progress, before talks resume.

“We cannot rush the parties back to the table without the proper parameters in place,” Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the 15-member body. “The current pause in the talks allows for both parties to consider their next steps, developing on the intensive engagement by the [United States] over the past nine months,” he said.

Of the Israeli/Palestinian situation, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco said that little had changed since the Council held its last quarterly all-day debate on 29 April, after the parties missed a deadline to reach agreement on core issues and Israel decided to break off talks after a Fatah-Hamas unity deal.

In that meeting, Robert Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, had warned the Council that a political stalemate following intensive US engagement has endangered what many saw as perhaps the last chance to achieve the long-sought two-State solution.

Meanwhile, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco reported, discussions continued on the implementation of the intra-Palestinian unity agreement, which the UN supports with the proviso that a future Government abide by such previous Palestinian commitments as recognition of Israel and adherence to non-violence.

In addition, he said, on 2 and 7 May, five of the nine core human rights treaties, plus one substantive protocol, entered into force following last month’s deposit of “instruments of accession” by the Palestinian Authority.

“The High Commissioner for Human Rights commends the commitment of the State of Palestine to be bound by the international human rights standards contained in these treaties,” he said.

Turning to violence on the ground, he reported that the parties had avoided escalation in the past weeks although worrying trends continued, with many Palestinians arrested or injured during demonstrations on 15 May, the 66th anniversary of what Palestinians call “Nakba Day.”

He said that the UN is calling for a credible Israeli investigation of the shooting deaths of two stone-throwing Palestinian teenagers on that day.

Also providing a brief update on the situations in Gaza and Lebanon, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco called for a structural solution to Gaza’s energy problems and urged a moratorium on the death penalty there. On Lebanon, he reiterated the need for timely elections, given that the term of the current president expires 25 May.


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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Facing ‘moment of truth,’ Mid-east parties must make tough choices to salvage peace efforts – UN envoy

In the wake of Israel’s decision to break off talks with the Palestinians after a Fatah-Hamas unity deal, and amid a “volatile” situation on the ground with negative trends in the West Bank and a fragile calm in Gaza, a United Nations envoy today challenged the parties to use this “moment of truth” to reflect on the hard choices required to keep peace from slipping further away.