Ban asks Israel to extend freeze on settlements

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 00:26

United Nations: Welcoming the United States brokered direct peace talks between Israel and Palestine, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday asked Israel to extend a settlement freeze in West Bank to facilitate the negotiations.

"I urge again on Monday that this moratorium should be
extended so that there should be no hurdles so that the
parties to the negotiations can continue their dialogue on the
basis of mutual respect and the very favourable political
climate," Ban said.

Palestinian has indicated at an end to the peace
talks if Israel does not extend the moratorium on settlements,
which expires on September 26.

Last week, US President Barack Obama also asked
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend his
government`s moratorium on West Bank settlement building.

"What I`ve said to Prime Minister Netanyahu is that
given, so far, the talks are moving forward in a constructive
way, it make sense to extend that moratorium so long as the
talks are moving in a constructive way," he said.

Yesterday, Netanyahu indicated that he was willing
to limit, though not completely halt, construction in the West
Bank settlements but the Palestinians have not yet accepted
this compromise.

At the end of the settlement moratorium, 13,000
housing units can be built without further government approval
- of which 2,000 for immediate construction, according to
Peace Now, an advocacy group that opposes Israel’s settlement
activity.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to the Middle East on Monday to attend the next round of talks, which were kicked off in Washington earlier this month.

"Both leaders recognise that there may not ever be
another chance," she said, recently at the Council on Foreign
Relations in New York.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly head, Ali Treki,
expressed concern at the "desecration" of the ancient Muslim
cemetery of Mamilla in Jerusalem, which the Israeli
authorities have argued contain hundreds of fraudulent
tombstones.

"The President of the General Assembly is alarmed
by the intent of erecting secular projects on the site of this
holy sanctuary, which is the burial place of venerated
religious figures for more than fourteen centuries," read a
statement issued on Monday.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 00:26

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