UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called on Israel and the Palestinians to make good will gestures toward each other in order to rebuild the kind of trust and confidence that can bring about "genuine and substantive negotiations to resolve core issues."
Speaking during the keynote address of the Herzliya Conference, Ban stated that Israel had a credible partner for peace in the Palestinian Authority that was busy building the institutions for a functional democracy in a future Palestinian state. He complained that "politics are not keeping pace with facts on the ground."
Ban stated that Israel continues to build illegal settlements "sometimes in the most precarious positions for peace."
The UN chief acknowledged that Israel "has legitimate security concerns." He stated that in order for negotiations to succeed, the Palestinians must engage seriously on the issue of security, and Israel must engage seriously on the issue of territory.
Ban also addressed the political changes in the region, expressing disappointment at the fact that some in Israel see the Arab Spring as a negative development.
"It pains me to hear such complaints," Ban said during the keynote speech of the Herzliya Conference.
The UN chief stated that despite Israeli concerns of turmoil and the emergence of Islamist governments in neighboring countries, the "inevitable evolution of history" should not be opposed.
Ban stated that the "fallacy that the Arab world is not ready for democracy" should be dropped and the international community should step up to help Arab countries "respond to the needs and aspirations of their citizens."
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