UN Security Council pushing for direct talks

UN Security Council pushing for direct talks

By The Associated Press, via Haaretz 
21.12.11 
 
UN Security Council members are growing more frustrated with the lack of progress in beginning negotiations and halting settlement construction among Israelis and Palestinians.  The increasing levels of violence among settlers and Palestinians has the international community fearful of escalation. The need for a peace process is more urgent than ever. 
 
[excerpt]
 
In a move which Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called historic, diplomats from almost all regional blocs represented on the council stepped to the microphone Tuesday after closed council consultations on the Mideast to condemn the lack of progress toward a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 
Churkin, the current council president, said the frustration over the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian talks spilled out in statements from the four European Union council members, the Nonaligned Movement, the Arab group, and the group of emerging powers that includes India, Brazil and South Africa.
 
Clearly referring to the United States, Churkin said dismissively that one delegation believes things will "miraculously" sort themselves out on their own.
 
"The call for bilateral negotiations without preconditions would seem a normal thing to ask for," he said.
 
But Churkin said the Palestinians are overwhelmed militarily and in every other way by the Israelis and without preconditions they would not get a fair shake in negotiations.
 
The diplomats - including key U.S. allies in Europe - also criticized the council's failure to take action against escalating violence by Israeli settlers and urged a speedy resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
 
Britain's UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, also speaking for EU members France, Germany and Portugal, said "Israel's security and the realization of the Palestinians' right to statehood are not opposing goals."
 
"On the contrary they are mutually reinforcing objectives," he said. "But they will not be achieved while settlement building and settler violence continues."
 
South Africa's UN Ambassador Baso Sangqu, speaking on behalf of the Nonaligned Movement of mainly developing countries, said settler attacks against Palestinian civilians increased 50 percent this year and called Israeli settlement construction "the main impediment for the two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
 
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