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Ban urges Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

July 10, 2012 at 8:47 PM

UNITED NATIONS, July 10 (UPI) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday called the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process a "dangerous standstill."

The U.N. official urged the international community to work to end the logjam.

"The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been for some time at a dangerous standstill. As we speak, there are ongoing intensive efforts between the parties to avoid renewed deadlock," Ban said in a message delivered on his behalf to the Asian and Pacific Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, held in Bangkok. "Recent actions on the ground have not contributed to a conducive environment for dialogue. Israel has continued settlement activity, contrary to international law and its commitments under the Road Map, and violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians has escalated."

Ban said the situation in Gaza remains unsustainable, with more than 80 percent of the region's families depending on humanitarian aid, and with imports, exports and the movement of people subject to restrictions.

"Lifting these restrictions ... would help to rebuild self-reliance and sustainability of the Gazan economy, and reduce dependency on donor aid. I continue to call on Israel to take measures to that end," Ban said. "The only way to avoid more suffering and violence is through negotiations aimed at resolving all permanent status issues. All of us in the international community, including the countries of Asia and the Pacific, must act collectively to help steer the situation towards a historic peace agreement."

The Israelis and the Palestinians haven't held direct talks since September 2010.

Negotiators from both sides made tentative steps toward renewed talks in January and April with the assistance of Jordan, but have since stepped back.

Ban sent a similar message to the United Nations-League of Arab States General Meeting on Cooperation in Vienna, calling on them to "create the conditions for meaningful negotiations."

He said the Palestinian Authority "needs the continuing support of the international community for its commendable state-building efforts, including financial help to ensure the payment of salaries and delivery of services to the population."

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