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Published on Sep 21, 2010

MaximsNewsNetwork: 17 September 2010 -- UNTV: United Nations, New York - The recent resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks has brought new hope for achieving a lasting peace in the Middle East, the United Nations (UN) envoy to the region Robert Serry, said today, while calling on the leaders of the two sides to stay the course until an agreement is reached.

After months of proximity talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, came together earlier this month in Washington D.C. under the auspices of the United States (US) to launch direct negotiations. The Israeli and Palestinian leaders conducted a second round of talks on 14 September in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and on 15 September in Jerusalem. The leaders have agreed to seek a solution based on two States for two peoples, and that the negotiations could be completed within one year, Serry reported.

Serry stressed the need for both leaders to "refrain from provocative actions and work as partners to create an environment conducive to successful negotiations."

As for the situation on the ground, the Special Coordinator voiced alarm at the recent upsurge in violence in Gaza, noting that it can only set back efforts to make progress in the territory. In recent weeks, Palestinian militants fired 10 rockets and 22 mortars from Gaza into Israel, injuring two Israelis and hitting close to residential areas in southern Israel. Israeli forces, meanwhile, conducted 10 air strikes and 18 incursions into Gaza, killing seven Palestinians and injuring four others.

Serry "strongly" reminded Hamas authorities that the path of non-violence, Palestinian unity, and acceptance of basic principles of the peace process was "the only one through which legitimate Palestinian aspirations can be attained."

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had reported economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza this year with growth for 2010 "conservatively projected at 8 percent". In the West Bank private sector confidence continued to be bolstered by sound PA management, and reforms supported by donor aid, improvements in the security conditions and fewer controls on internal movement of goods and people than in 2009.

However, Serry said that the World Bank warned that unless action was taken in the near future to address the remaining obstacles to private sector development and sustainable growth, the PA would remain donor dependent and its institutions would not be able to underpin a viable state. Serry emphasized that "as the PA seeks to roll out the basis for its state, measures of occupation must be rolled back."

"I believe it is possible and desirable for more to be done to ease these constraints, as well as to enable Gazans to move more freely, consistent with legitimate Israeli security concerns. I continue to support efforts to enhance the presence of the Palestinian Authority at crossings," he added.

Serry noted that the partial easing of the Israeli blockade had helped generate 16 percent growth in Gaza in the first half of this year. He said that there were now 1365 industries establishments operating in Gaza, up from 117 in 2008, but he said that still this was only one third of the 3900 operating before June 2007.

Serry said that he believed that it was possible "and desirable for more to be done to ease these constraints, as well as to enable Gazans to move more freely, consistent with legitimate Israeli security concerns." He added that he continued to support efforts to enhance the presence of the Palestinian Authority at crossings.

The Special Envoy ended his statement by reminding delegates that with renewed peace talks, "the opportunity is great and the stakes are high."

He said that making peace would not be easy and carried risks, but he added that the dangers of not trying "are much graver. Both leaders have shown that they recognize this. Having summoned the courage to begin, they must now sustain the courage to progress, and find the wisdom to statesmanship to lead their governments and peoples to a peace agreement."

To review progress in the talks and in the overall search for peace in the region, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host a meeting of the Quartet -- the Middle East diplomatic grouping comprising the UN, the US, the European Union and Russia, on Tuesday in New York.

...... ( UNITED NATIONS TELEVISION: UNTV ) ... ..............................................................
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