The UN secretary-general has urged the next Israeli government to back a two-state solution with Palestinians. Ban Ki-moon has also called on the international community to get both sides back to the negotiating table.
On Tuesday, Ban Ki-moon told the UN Security Council that Israel's next government must work toward a two-state solution to end the country's seven-decade conflict with Palestinians. Ahead of elections last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had appeared to take that option off the table.
"The prospect of a two-state solution continues to recede, with potentially explosive consequences," Ban told the Security Council. "I strongly urge the incoming government to reaffirm Israel's commitment to the two-state solution and to take credible steps to foster an environment conducive to a return to meaningful negotiations, including a freeze of settlement activity," he added.
In March, Netanyahu dropped his support of a Palestinian state, vowing to construct new settlements. As pressure mounts - even from the US, Israel's most reliable ally - Netanyahu has attempted to row back from his declaration. In March, the Obama administration announced that the United States would "reassess" its options on US-Israel relations in light of Netanyahu's apparent new stance.
"It is critically important that leaders urgently re-engage in efforts to achieve peace, which is the most effective way to prevent such tension from escalating, as it has too many times before," Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council on Tuesday.
'Getting negotiations started'
Palestinians are seeking a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967. In March, France announced plans for a draft text to lay out parameters for ending the conflict and hopes to win over the United States, which has traditionally shielded Israel from any UN action.
New Zealand, one of 10 nonpermanent members of the Council, called for action before the US presidential campaign ahead of the November 2016 polls. "We have been working on a text that might serve the purpose of getting negotiations started," said Jim McLay, New Zealand's ambassador to the United Nations. He added that New Zealand would see how France's push for a resolution played out first.
Mark Lyall Grant, Britain's ambassador to the UN, said that the United Kingdom also saw merit in a council resolution "setting out the parameters for a peaceful and negotiated solution.
"But this will require proper consultation to achieve the full backing of the council," he added.
Two-state talks brokered by the United States came to an abrupt halt last summer, and shortly after Israel launched a 50-day war on the Gaza Strip. In many parts of Israel, ethnic tensions between Jews and Arabs have hit new extremes.
mkg/cmk (Reuters, AFP, dpa)