Middle East: As Proximity Talks Start, Hopes for Progress Voiced at UN

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–10 May 2010 – Welcoming the proximity talks launched in an effort to overcome the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he hopes the latest initiative will lead to direct negotiations between the two sides.

Mr. Ban and his Middle East Quartet partners have long stressed that there is no alternative to a two-State solution, and earlier this year called on the parties to resume negotiations aimed at reaching a settlement in the next two years.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson last night, the Secretary-General commended the United States-mediated proximity talks, expressing hope that “the parties are able to make progress.”

Meetings between the two sides were halted after Israel launched an offensive against Gaza at the end of 2008 with the stated aim of trying to end rocket attacks against it. The three-week conflict left more than 1,400 people dead, injured 5,000 others and reduced homes, schools, hospitals and marketplaces to rubble.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, a new United Nations-backed report argued that progress for the Palestinians will not be possible until they are given economic and environmental control, especially on issues of trade, water resources and borders.

The Palestinian Human Development Report 2009/10, written by an independent team and sponsored by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), explored different facets of human security, from economy, food, health, environment, political, personal, community.

It found that the widespread absence of human security in the occupied Palestinian territory has greatly impeded progress for the people living there.

“Human security is the platform for development, the aim of which is to create an environment where people can enjoy long, healthy and creative lives,” said UNDP Special Representative Jens Toyberg-Frandzen, who launched the Report in Ramallah along with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

“This report is a reminder that Palestinians continue to face many challenges including the occupation and internal fragmentation.”