Ban Ki-moon
Photo: AP

UN chief to visit Ramallah, Jerusalem

Ban 'encouraged' by talks between Israeli, Palestinian negotiators in Amman. PA envoy: It would be great for him to see danger of 'cancerous' settlement expansion

UN leader Ban Ki-moon will visit the Palestinian territories and Israel as tensions between the two grow over Israel's settlement drive in the West Bank, diplomats said Friday.


Ban will meet with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah at the end of January or early February, Palestinian UN ambassador envoy Riyad Mansour told reporters. Diplomats confirmed that the UN secretary general will go to Jerusalem on the same trip.


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Ban, who is to visit Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates next week, said he would go to other Middle East countries.


"Some informations have already been leaked, or are out, but official announcements will be made soon," he said, referring to Mansour's comments.


The UN secretary general was last in Jerusalem and Ramallah in March 2010.


מולכו ועריקאת בפגישה עם נציגי הקוורטט בירדן      (צילום: AFP)

Israeli, PA negotiators meet in Amman (Photo: AFP)


This trip would come at a particularly sensitive time with the UN at the center of international efforts to resume direct Israeli-Palestinian talks. Ban has also been outspoken in criticizing Israel settlement construction.


The United Nations is part of the international Quartet on the Middle East, along with the United States, Russia and European Union.


Ban said he had been "encouraged" by talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Amman this week.


"It would be great for him (Ban) to come and visit Ramallah to see the situation on the ground, to see the danger of this continuous program of expanding these illegal settlements, particularly in and around east Jerusalem," the Palestinian envoy told reporters at the UN headquarters.


Mansour said he had been "heavily involved" in arranging the visit.


The Palestinians withdrew from direct talks with Israel in September 2010 in protest at Israel's refusal to extend a moratorium on settlement building which Mansour called "a cancer" which now threatens the possibility of a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.


The Palestinians made a high-profile bid for membership of the United Nations last September but that is now deadlocked, with the United States vowing to veto any UN Security Council recommendation of the application.


The United States and Israel say only direct talks can produce a permanent peace accord.


To keep the Middle East conflict in the international spotlight, the Palestinians are pressing for the Security Council to hear a briefing by the UN humanitarian department on Israel's settlement activity.


Mansour said he was consulting with Non-Aligned Movement and Arab nations on the briefing which would have to be called for by one of the 15 Security Council members. Mansour said he did not anticipate opposition.


He said a briefing by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) would be the best alternative to the Security Council going to the territories to see the "swelling" settlements and the impact of growing attacks by settlers.


"It is like a cancer in the body of the Palestinian occupied territories," Mansour said.




פרסום ראשון: 01.07.12, 08:47
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