Unity Needs to Promote Peace, Ban Tells Barak

Intra-Palestinian reconciliation should take place in a way that promotes peace, security and non-violence, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stressed, just days after Hamas and Fatah announced they had reached an agreement to form a national unity government and hold elections within a year.

Speaking yesterday by telephone with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, Mr. Ban discussed the recent unity deal between the two Palestinian factions – struck under the auspices of Egypt – and the Middle East peace process.

Mr. Ban said the United Nations would study the agreement carefully and took note of Israeli concerns about the implications of the reconciliation understanding, according to information released by his spokesperson.

The Secretary-General underscored the need for progress towards Palestinian unity within the framework of the Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas and the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization. He welcomed efforts to that end, including the contribution of Egypt.

“The Secretary-General said he hoped that reconciliation would now take place in a manner that promoted the cause of peace, security and non-violence,” the spokesperson noted.

UN officials, including Mr. Ban, had been urging Palestinian factions for some time to put their differences behind them, put national interests first and find a way forward so they can tackle the many challenges that Palestinians face.

Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after outside the Fatah party that controls part of the West Bank.

Discussing the overall Middle East peace process with Mr. Barak, Mr. Ban voiced his concern at the current impasse in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and stressed that continued drift was not desirable for either side.

He told Mr. Barak that the diplomatic Quartet – comprising the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States – “continued to discuss balanced and effective ways to help both parties break the deadlock and move towards resolving all final status issues.”

(UN News Centre)

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