Ban: Palestinians must unite for peace

UN sec.-gen. says int'l body values "bilateral negotiations between Israel, Palestinian authorities."

ban ki moon un chief 248 (photo credit: AP [file])
ban ki moon un chief 248
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian factions must reconcile in order for peace negotiations to restart, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was quoted as saying Friday. Speaking at a Vienna press conference, the secretary-general said, "It will be crucially important that the Palestinian peoples are united among themselves and should be able to carry on these negotiations." Ban voiced support for the Saudi-backed Arab peace initiative, but added, "at the same time we also value ... bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestinian authorities." Ban's comments as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas seem headed for their first meeting in late September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The meeting would be the first between the two leaders since Netanyahu took office in March. Abbas has up until now said he would not begin negotiations with Netanyahu until there was a total settlement freeze, in line with US President Barack Obama's stance. Ban told reporters that he had faith in the US approach to pushing the peace process forward, predicting, "We will see some positive results coming from the American administration's direct engagement in the Middle East," he said. Herb Keinon contributed to this report