Photo: AFP
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Photo: AFP
UN chief: Israel, Palestinians must preserve prospects for peace
After deadline for talks passes, Israel tries to distance itself from hardliner's criticism of Kerry, as UN urges parties to refrain from unilateral actions.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel and Palestinians, as well as the international community, to "reflect on how to preserve the prospects for a two-state solution," as Israel's US ambassador attempted to disown right wing criticism of US peace efforts.



Ban also urged the parties to refrain from unilateral actions that could prevent peace negotiations from resuming.


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The end-of-April deadline for US-brokered talks came and went almost unnoticed after Israel suspended peace talks a week ago in response to a reconciliation pact between Fatah, the Palestinian faction that leads the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and which both the US and Israel regard as a terrorist group.


According to Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, the secretary general "urges caution and (calls the parties to) avoid any unilateral action that would reduce the chances of seeing negotiations resume and reach an agreement ."


Both parties "must again convince each other that they are partners for peace ," added his spokesman .


Ban also urged the international community to " take its longstanding commitment to develop a comprehensive settlement " in the Middle East .


US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday he would pause and reassess what might be possible after failing to meet his April 29 goal for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, saying both sides still wanted to try to negotiate.


Meanwhile, Israel's UN ambassador attempted to distance Israel from critical comments made against Kerry by a hardliner member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party Likud in an op-ed to Politico.


Slamming Kerry for reportedly saying that should talks fail, Israel would become an "apartheid state," Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon wrote "Kerry attempted to scare the Israeli public into capitulation. His attempts were viewed here in Israel as a not-so-cryptic message that the United States would no longer retain its steadfast rejection of any boycotts against Israel if our government did not ensure that the talks would end to the US administration’s liking."


Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Dermer said in a statement that "Danon's views of Secretary Kerry do not reflect the views of the Government of Israel. Israel deeply appreciates Secretary Kerry's efforts to advance peace with the Palestinians.


"We do not believe that Secretary Kerry has tried to threaten Israel, and we believe that his decades of support for Israel reflect an abiding commitment to Israel's security and its future."

Speaking at Addis Ababa, Kerry promised to reveal some of the headway made in peace talks, and found some praise for the parties, saying that "both leaders took serious steps in order to engage in this discussion."


"What has not been laid out publicly and what I will do at some appropriate moment of time is make clear to everybody the progress that was made," Kerry said.


"These eight months - eight months plus - were not without significant progress in certain areas. And I don't think anybody wants to lose that progress."


When Kerry might revisit the peace effort was unclear.


"It's time for a pause. But it's also time to be reflective about the ways in which one might be able to find common ground even out of these difficulties," Kerry said.


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