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UN chief reaffirms two-state solution in Mideast

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-02-06 10:46

UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday reaffirmed the need for progress towards a two-state solution for the Israelis and Palestinians, calling for the swift resumption of negotiations between the two sides.

"The status quo is unsustainable, and unacceptable," Ban told the UN General Assembly's Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People as it opened its 2013 session.

The secretary-general said that both Israel and Palestine must live up to their commitment to a negotiated two-state solution consistent with Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and resolve all core issues, including territory, security, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, and water.

"We cannot afford a year without tangible results," he stressed.

Among recent developments that further underlined the need to act, the UN chief noted the November 2012 General Assembly voted to grant Palestine the status of Non-Member Observer State at the world body.

"This moment resonated deeply within the United Nations and underscored the urgency for achieving a two-state solution," he said. "There is no substitute for negotiations to this end."

Following the Israeli elections last month, Ban said, "we look forward to engaging the next Israeli Government in the common pursuit of peace. This is no time to be idle."

At the same time, the secretary-general said he is "dismayed by the dramatic increase" in Israeli settlement activity, calling it illegal and a major obstacle to a two-state solution.

Relieved by a recent Israeli decision to transfer tax and customs revenues to the Palestinian Authority, Ban urged timely and predictable transfers and increased donor support.

He said that despite some recent relaxationd of restrictions in Gaza, more needed to be done to lift the closure and improve the humanitarian situation while addressing Israel's legitimate security concerns.

The UN chief also pointed out that the ceasefire in Gaza provided an opportunity to address underlying contributors to instability in the area, as well as advance efforts toward Palestinian reconciliation, which he called another essential step for durable peace.

"The peace process and reconciliation are not incompatible; efforts must be made on both fronts," he said, adding that Hamas must make clear where it stands on the central issues at stake.

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