Top UN official: Moratorium insufficient

Top UN official Morator

robert serry in Gaza 248.88 (photo credit: )
robert serry in Gaza 248.88
(photo credit: )
Israel's 10-month moratorium on settlement construction falls short of its commitments under the 2003 road map peace plan, a senior UN official told the UN Security Council on Thursday. Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, also called on Palestinians to resume negotiations with Israel. "We are in a race against time to overcome the contradictions on the ground, and the crisis of confidence between the parties, and move decisively toward a political endgame," Serry said at the council's monthly briefing on the Mideast. He added that the situation in Gaza remains desperate, with thousands still homeless following the IDF's offensive last winter aimed at stopping rocket fire into southern Israeli civilian areas. "The situation is serious. We need, we urgently need, to see some progress in the new year. For that we need Israeli measures which would continue to enable the Palestinians to continue their important work," Serry told reporters after briefing the Council. "We continue to appeal to the government of Israel to allow the United Nations actually to start doing some real reconstruction, genuine reconstruction, in Gaza," Serry continued. In the meantime, he added, "UN agencies are doing what they can to help the population in the coming winter." Serry said smugglers and terrorists continue to ship materials and weapons through tunnels into Gaza, while violence remained relatively restrained, with 10 rockets and mortar shells fired into Israel last month. Following the briefing, Serry said he believed real progress may only be possible after Hamas releases captured IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit. "I am hopeful, if he is released, we will be able to immediately resume these projects. Israel is publicly on record that as long as Schalit is not released, they are not willing to allow significant amounts of construction materials in," Serry said. "Let me add here that this linkage is not accepted by the UN."