'Arab world pushing Saudi peace plan'

Peretz urges UN chief to do "everything" to secure kidnapped troops' release.

peretz cell phone 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
peretz cell phone 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said Saturday evening that there was "renewed determination in the Arab world to push the 2002 Saudi peace proposal." Speaking upon arrival in Israel Saturday evening, Ki-Moon said that "our challenge [is] to find this potential and create an implementable process that will bring peace." "The United Nations has had crucial political and operational roles in the Middle East for more than 60 years. We were there at Israel's creation and I would dearly wish to be there again when a comprehensive solution to the conflict is achieved," Ki-Moon said before meeting Defense Minister Amir Peretz. Peretz, meanwhile, urged the UN chief to "do everything" possible to win the release of kidnapped reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whose abductions in a cross-border raid sparked the 34-day Second Lebanon War. Ki-Moon was set to sit down with Peretz in Tel Aviv Saturday evening to discuss a number of security issues. On the agenda are implementation of UN Resolution 1701, the UNIFIL peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Israel's kidnapped soldiers, and the current situation in the Palestinian Authority. Earlier Saturday, Ki-moon urged the new Palestinian Authority coalition government to live up to the expectations of the international community, referring to demands that it recognize Israel and work toward peace. Ban spoke after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is hosting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Arab foreign ministers this weekend for discussions on the Middle East peace process. Ban said he welcomed the formation of a new PA coalition that adds moderates and independents to a government formerly made up exclusively of members of Hamas. "We expect that the national unity government will meet the expectations of the international community for peace and security in the region," Ban said. He said he discussed the need "to encourage this ongoing peace process" with Mubarak. Ban arrived in Cairo Thursday night from Baghdad, and is later scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the Palestinian territories, as part of his first tour of the Middle East. Ban said he would not meet Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, citing a busy schedule. He said he would, however, meet with PA Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr, an independent.