All those “with influence” should breath new life into the frozen Israeli-Palestinian peace process before it is to late, pled UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a speech he gave at Yale University on Tuesday night.
Urging Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, Ban asserted that “there can be no substitute for meaningful negotiations.”
He spoke as Palestinians plan to push ahead with their unilateral bid to ask the UN General Assembly to upgrade their status to that of a non-member state on November 29.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he would only return to the negotiating table after that vote.
Israel has accused the Palestinians of circumventing those talks by instead seeking unilateral statehood through the United Nations.
Jerusalem has charged that separating Palestinian statehood from the peace process endangers the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution.
Ban said that according to the UN Charter, only the member states could decide this issue.
“A two-state solution remains the only viable option to end this conflict and the occupation that has endured for almost half a century. Realizing this vision requires more determination, not more delay,” he said.
Ban said he believed the foundation of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process includes UN Security Council resolutions, the Madrid principles including land for peace, the Roadmap, the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and previous agreements between the parties.
Israelis and Palestinians should refrain from taking any steps that would harm the possibility of peace, the UN chief stated.
“None of us should act in any way that would place a return to talks at risk,” Ban said.
Strong leadership is needed, he said, to ensure that the two-state solution and Palestinian institution building efforts are not in jeopardy.
“The cost of the continued stalemate and ongoing illegal settlements continues to rise with each passing day -- and each missed opportunity,” Ban said.
“I once again appeal to all those with influence: The Middle East peace process is on life support. Do not pull the plug. Breathe new life and hope now. The region and the world cannot wait,” Ban said.