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Ban asks Israel to cease settlements in West Bank
UNITED NATIONS/Cairo, OCT 3 (PTI/Agencies):
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Published on 3 Oct. 2010 11:15 PM IST
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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked Israel to extend settlement freeze in the West Bank, amid fears that end of the moratorium could prompt Palestine to pull out of direct peace talks with the Jewish state.
A moratorium on settlements expired on September 26 and despite facing pressure from the international community, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet extended the freeze policy.
In a telephonic conversation with Netanyahu, Ban “renewed his hope that the Government of Israel would extend its settlement restraint policy and underscored the need to create a conducive environment for successful negotiations, a statement issued from his office said.
He reiterated his belief that negotiations are the only way for Israel and the Palestinians to resolve all final status issues and realise their aspirations,” the statement said.
Ban separately also called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Senator George Mitchell, US Envoy for the Middle East.
Ban “welcomed continuing US efforts to sustain direct talks and offered his continued support to efforts to promote peace” and “encouraged Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to continue their efforts to find a way forward,” the statement said.
Israel’s refusal to extend the moratorium seen as a snub to the Obama administration, has been slammed by the international community which has appealed to the Israeli authorities several times to stop making illegal settlements that could jeopardise the peace process.
Meanwhile, Tzipi Livni, the leader of the main opposition party Kadmia, has asked Netanyahu to push the peace process forward instead of his own political clear, according to the ‘Jerusalem Post’. Netanyahu “must choose the real long-term interests of Israel rather than his own personal political interests,” Livni said.
“Netanyahu knows the possibility of making decisions that will ensure continued negotiations is in his hands and that Kadima will support any decision that facilitates the talks and strengthens Israel’s security interests,” she added.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders who met in the West Bank today supported a suspension of peace talks until the construction activity did not stop. Palestinians are interested in talks with Israel
Speaking after meeting with Egyptian president in Cairo, US envoy claims both sides want to continue negotiations; Egyptian FM backs Palestinian position on settlement construction. The Palestinians are interested in peace talks with Israel continuing, US envoy George Mitchell said in Cairo on Sunday during a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
“Despite their differences, both the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have asked us to continue these discussions in an effort to establish the conditions under which they can continue direct negotiations,” Mitchell told reporters after his meeting with Mubarak.“They both want to continue these negotiations, they do not want to stop the talks,” he added.
Mitchell then traveled to Jordan where he is expected to meet with King Abdullah II.
Directly after the meeting, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit backed the Palestinians’ refusal to negotiate with Israel as long as it continues to build West Bank settlements, even as officials urged Sunday for continued diplomacy to salvage the month-old talks.
“We understand the Palestinian position which calls for setting the appropriate environment and circumstances for negotiations to take place and continue,” Aboul Gheit said. “The current conditions are not favorable.”
Aboul Gheit said the focus now should be on continued US and international efforts to pressure Israel into agreeing to extending the settlement moratorium.

 
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