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.

Last Updated: Oct 03, 2010, 13:27 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 telephonic conversation with Netanyahu, 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 seen as a
snub to the Obama administration, has been slammed by the
international community 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