Israeli-Palestinian dispute a ‘major drag’ on Middle East political reforms, says UK envoy

By Ray Moseley, Al Arabiya


via Al Arabiya News (click for original)

The Israeli-Palestinian dispute is “a major drag” on the process of political reform sweeping through the Middle East and the peace process needs to be restarted soon if the United Nations is to avoid a serious confrontation in September, Britain’s ambassador to the UN said in London on Monday.
The ambassador, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, referred to a threatened demand by Palestinians to ask the UN General Assembly in September to proclaim Palestinian statehood.
Speaking at a meeting of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, the ambassador said the Israeli-Palestinian impasse was one of four challenges facing the international community as the so-called Arab Spring rolls into summer. The others he listed involve Libya, Egypt and Iran.
Sir Mark expressed hope that the dormant peace process can be restarted before September. But he also said consideration was being given to transferring the issue of Palestinian statehood from the General Assembly to the Security Council.
He did not spell out the significance of that. But there is no veto in the General Assembly, and thus little possibility of avoiding adoption of the Palestinian proposal there, but the five permanent members of the Security Council each has the power of veto.
He declined to say how the United Kingdom would vote if the issue comes before the General Assembly, but described the drive for recognition of statehood as “something of a blind alley.”
It would not lead, he said, to the establishment of two viable states living peacefully side by side.