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Mideast peace process slow, says Ban

Feb. 6, 2013 at 9:20 AM

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Palestinian reconciliation and an end to Israeli settlement activity are two ways to end the stalemate over Middle East peace, the U.N. secretary-general said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told a U.N. General Assembly meeting on Palestinian rights that reconciliation was one of the ways to kick-start the peace process.

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

West Bank leader Fatah and Gaza leader Hamas agreed to move forward with reconciliation agreements last month. The territories as a whole, meanwhile, have gained more recognition at the General Assembly.

Ban expressed frustration with Israeli settlement activity, describing it as a major obstacle to the so-called two-state solution.

"We cannot afford a year without tangible results," he said. "The status quo is unsustainable and unacceptable."

White House spokesman Jay Carney this week said U.S. President Barak Obama would visit Israel this spring. Palestinian newspaper al-Quds, meanwhile, reports that Secretary of State John Kerry was considering a trip to the Palestinian territories this month.

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