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Israelis and Palestinians must press ahead with peace process, says Ban

3 June 2008 – Israelis and Palestinians need to enhance their efforts to bring a peace deal to fruition, although some recent progress has been made, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

In an address to the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People meeting in Malta, he said that “both sides must seize the current window of opportunity to push the peace process forward, especially by acting under their obligations under the Road Map.”

That plan – sponsored by the diplomatic Quartet of the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States – aims to secure a two-State solution to the Middle East conflict, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace.

Mr. Ban, in a message delivered by Max Gaylard, Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, underscored the “punishing humanitarian conditions” endured by the Palestinian people, especially the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. He noted that two-thirds of Gaza’s residents live in poverty, and the area experienced zero economic growth in 2007.

Exacerbating the situation, he said, are ongoing Israeli air strikes and ground operations.

“Equally unacceptable and deeply irresponsible are the rocket and other attacks by militants against Israeli civilians and at crossing points,” the Secretary-General said.

He welcomed the willingness of Israeli and Palestinian leaders to continue talks, appealing to them not to be deterred by challenges.

“To succeed, current efforts to achieve a peace deal need to be underpinned by visible progress on the ground,” Mr. Ban said.

The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which was established by the General Assembly in 1975, promotes global support for and assistance to the Palestinian people and seeks to raise awareness of the question of Palestine.

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