Ban asks Israel to cease settlements in West Bank

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked Israel to extend settlement freeze in the West Bank, amid fears that end of the moratorium could prompt Palestine to pull out of direct peace talks with the Jewish state.

Last Updated: Oct 02, 2010, 22:52 PM IST

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked Israel to extend settlement freeze in the West Bank, amid fears that end of the moratorium could prompt
Palestine to pull out of direct peace talks with the Jewish state.

A moratorium on settlements expired on September 26 and despite facing pressure from the international community, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet extended the freeze policy.

In a phone conversation with Netanyahu yesterday, Ban "renewed his hope that the Government of Israel would extend its settlement restraint policy and underscored the need to create a conducive environment for successful negotiations, a statement issued from his office said.
He reiterated his belief that negotiations are the only way for Israel and the Palestinians to resolve all final status issues and realise their aspirations," the statement said. Ban separately also called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Senator George Mitchell, US Envoy for the Middle East.

Ban "welcomed continuing US efforts to sustain direct talks and offered his continued support to efforts to promote peace" and "encouraged Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to continue their efforts to find a way forward," the statement said.

Israel`s refusal to extend the moratorium has been slammed by the international community, and also seen as a snub to the Obama administration, which has appealed to the Israeli authorities several times to stop making illegal settlements that could jeopardise the peace process.

Meanwhile, Tzipi Livni, the leader of the main opposition party Kadmia, has asked Netanyahu to push the peace process forward instead of his own political clear, according
to the Jerusalem Post.

Netanyahu "must choose the real long-term interests of Israel rather than his own personal political interests," Livni said. "Netanyahu knows the possibility of making decisions that will ensure continued negotiations is in his hands and that Kadima will support any decision that facilitates the talks and strengthens Israel`s security interests," she added.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders who met in the West Bank today supported a suspension of peace talks until the construction activity did not stop.

PTI