New York: UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon discussed with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the efforts of the Quartet to start direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
"They discussed the role of the Quartet in the peace
process," Ban`s office said.
"The Secretary-General briefed Secretary Hillary on
his recent conversations with leaders in the region."
Ban spoke to Hillary over phone from Japan where he is
visiting to honour the victims of the atomic bombing 65 years
The Quartet, which is made up of the United Nations,
Russia, Europe and the United States, has stressed that
proximity talks should evolve into direct negotiations between
the parties as soon as possible.
The goal is to resolve all issues within 24 months.
The proximity talks have not yielded any results and
now the US is pushing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas to enter into direct talks with Israel. The Arab League
has also signalled its support for direct talks.
Israel`s blockade of Gaza, however, and the illegal
settlement building in the occupied territories is a potent
source of tension.
Last week, armed Israeli settlers forcibly evicted of
nine families from a building in an Arab neighbourhood of East
The UN also reported, last week, that the Israeli
authorities destroyed a number of Palestinian commercial
structures on the outskirts of East Jerusalem.
Palestinians consider East Jerusalem as the future
capital of their independent state under the two state
solution but many settlers see it as the land given by God to
Abbas insists that direct negotiations are only
possible if Israel agreed to a complete settlement freeze and
provided a clearer picture on what the borders of a new
Palestinian state would look like.
US President Barack Obama recently sent a letter to
Abbas urging him to enter into direct talks.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Nentanyahu is calling
for direct talks without any preconditions.
Israel has eased the blockade of the Gaza Strip
following the international condemnation of the deadly raid by
its forces of an aid carrying flotilla that killed nine
Turkish activists in May.
Israel has also agreed to an international inquiry
organised by the UN into the incident.
The inquiry is not a criminal investigation but it
will only review the findings of the domestic probes being
conducted Israel and Turkey.
Ban will attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony on the
anniversary of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima today ? the
first UN Secretary-General to do so.