"Leaders must show a sense of historic responsibility and vision," he stated. "Israelis and Palestinians must break out of a zero-sum mentality, and embrace a peaceful path forward."
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The UN chief called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders "to breathe new life into the peace process, which is now on life support." He did not express support or opposition to the Palestinian bid for statehood but stated that "final status issues can be resolved only through direct negotiations. Violence is not the way; it only breeds more hatred and bitterness."
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Ban further added, "I share the deep and, indeed, global frustration that the two-state solution seems ever more distant."
Addressing the date the Palestinians chose to present their bid – November 29 – he said, " Sixty-five years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 181, proposing the partition of the mandate territory into two States. Sixty-five years later, this vision of a two-state solution remains tragically unfulfilled.
Ban and Abbas (Photo: AP)
"This date has great meaning for both sides. This year it takes on added significance, with the Palestinian decision to seek Non Member Observer State status through a vote in the General Assembly later today."
The UN chief condemned both the rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli settlement construction. "It is crucial to sustain the ceasefire concluded last week that ended more than one week of devastating violence in Gaza and southern Israel.
"There must be no rocket fire from Gaza, which I have condemned repeatedly. There is no justification for indiscriminate attacks against civilian targets," he said. "Continued settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is a violation of international law and the Roadmap. These activities must cease."
Celebrations in West Bank (Photo: EPA)
Ban further added that "efforts should be focused on preserving the commendable achievements of the Palestinian Authority on the ground, and on re-launching meaningful negotiations, which are the only way to resolve all permanent status issues.
"Our priority remains to do the painstaking work of realizing the just and lasting peace for which generations of Palestinians and Israelis have longed - a peace that ends the occupation that started in 1967 and ensures that an independent, viable and sovereign State of Palestine lives side by side with a secure State of Israel."
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to all nations to vote in favor of a UN resolution recognizing the state of Palestine as "an investment in peace."
Abbas said in a statement Thursday ahead of the vote that despite diminishing hopes and a worsening situation on the ground due to Israeli violations "we remain committed to the two-state solution and our hand remains extended in peace."
He said this is why the Palestinians embarked on the "peaceful, political initiative" to raise their UN status from an observer to a nonmember observer state.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on his part said that "today is a day of historic defeat for the Palestinians."
He further added, "For the past two years they have tried to establish a state at the UN's Security Council, the only body with binding power. Having failed, they had to make do with a meaningless step at the General Assembly."
Itamar Eichner is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth corresponent
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