U.N. head: Press Israel to freeze settlements


In an Op-Ed in Forbes, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon pushes for a unified Palestinian government and international pressure on Israel to freeze settlement construction. He writes:

Open crossings [at Gaza’s borders], as envisaged in international agreements, remain essential if any ceasefire is to hold and much-needed humanitarian and reconstruction assistance is to reach the people. If we are to restore a properly functioning crossings regime, Israel’s legitimate security concerns will need to be addressed, and the Palestinian Authority should be in a position to assume its responsibilities under these agreements. This, in turn, requires the Palestinian people to be reunited under one government committed to the principles of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

I have stated that the United Nations will work with a united Palestinian government that brings Gaza and the West Bank under the authority of President Abbas. I urge all Palestinian parties, and all regional and international players, to support the process of Palestinian reconciliation.

If anything, the crisis in Gaza underscored the depth of the political failures of the past, and the urgent need to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace for all peoples in the Middle East. Just as we need a unified Palestinian government committed to the peace process, we need an Israeli government that will uphold its commitments. Just as we need the Palestinians to address security issues–as the Palestinian Authority is doing so commendably in the West Bank–we need the Israelis to implement a genuine settlement freeze.

Settlement expansion is illegal and unacceptable and does so much to undermine confidence in the political process throughout the Arab world. I am urging all international partners to make this issue central to renewed international peace efforts.

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