The very possibility of reaching a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to recede with potentially explosive consequences, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday.
In a briefing to the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, Ban urged the incoming Israeli government to reaffirm a commitment to the UN-proposed solution that envisages the creation of an independent Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders, alongside Israel.
The new Israeli government should “take credible steps to foster an environment conducive to a return to meaningful negotiations, including a freeze of settlement activity,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party won last month’s Knesset elections, but he has so far been unable to cobble together a coalition, including his right-wing party and other right-wing and religious parties.
On the last days of his election campaign, Netanyahu said that he would ditch the UN-proposed two-state model altogether if he were to be re-elected. He later backtracked on those comments.
The UN chief also called for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the latest round of which collapsed in April 2014.
“Both sides face difficult choices. But one choice stands above all: whether to choose peace or the death, destruction and suffering that has defined the conflict for far too long,” Ban said.
“Too many lives have been lost, too many families have been destroyed, too many livelihoods have been shattered, and too much distrust has been sown,” he added.
The Mideast peace process continues to limp along, and direct peace talks remain deadlocked amid Israel’s unilateral settlement-building policies in occupied lands and Palestinians’ efforts on international recognition of their statehood.