UN Envoy Urges ‘Decisive’ Push For Israeli-Palestinian Peace In 2009
New York, Dec 18 2008 5:10PM
With the goal of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by the end of this year out of reach, a top United Nations
envoy today stressed the need to step up efforts by both sides to attain a comprehensive settlement to their decades-old
conflict during the coming year.
“We must set the stage for a decisive push for peace in 2009,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process
Robert Serry told an open
debate of the Security Council, in which some 35 speakers participated.
“We must protect, preserve, and where possible advance, the three tracks of the Annapolis process,” he stated, referring
to negotiations, institution-building and implementation of the commitments of the parties under the so-called Road Map
At their meeting in November 2007 in the United States city of Annapolis, leaders of the two sides agreed to immediately
launch good-faith negotiations to try to conclude a peace treaty by the end of 2008 that resolves all outstanding
While UN officials have conceded that this target will not be reached, they have called on the parties to intensify
their negotiations based on the principle of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security
At its meeting on Monday in New York, the diplomatic grouping known as the Quartet – comprising the UN, European Union,
Russia and the US – affirmed the need to bolster the political process and address the challenges on the ground.
This was followed by the Council’s adoption on Tuesday of a resolution calling on both parties to fulfil their Road Map
obligations, and to refrain from any steps that could undermine confidence or prejudice the outcome of negotiations.
“An important platform for peace has been established in 2008, due to the efforts of the parties and the support of the
international community,” noted Mr. Serry. “The challenge now is to build on this platform and turn the promise of peace
into a reality… The diplomatic process and improvements on the ground must reinforce each other and move swiftly
Regarding the situation on the ground, he reported that there were 30 rocket attacks in the past two days on Israeli
towns and at the crossings through which civilians, UN workers and all goods entering the Gaza Strip must pass. He
condemned those attacks and called for their immediate cessation.
Israel has cited rocket and other attacks by militants in Gaza against Israeli civilians as the reason for closing
border crossings into Gaza for almost two months now. The closures have worsened the humanitarian situation in the Gaza
Strip, which is home to an estimated 1.5 million Palestinians.
Mr. Serry noted that, because of the closures, half of Gaza City’s population receives water only once a week for a few
hours. In addition, UN projects in Gaza, worth over $150 million, remain suspended due to a lack of materials.
“A priority must be to ensure calm in and around Gaza and urgently improve humanitarian conditions,” he stressed.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reported today that, due to irregular
border access and a lack of wheat flour, it has been forced to suspend its food distribution activities as of today
until further notice.
“All crossings for goods into the Strip are closed and no humanitarian supplies, fuel and other needed commodities are
being allowed to enter,” the Agency said in a news release.
A total of 750,000 refugees in Gaza depend on food aid from UNRWA, which, on average, distributes food to about 20,000
refugees per day.