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Small window for putting ME peace back on track

Small window open for putting Middle East peace back on track, Security Council told

19 March – The appointment by the Palestinian Authority of an empowered Prime Minister, the decision to present the diplomatic Quartet’s “road map” to the parties and the Israeli Government’s willingness to return to the negotiating table were among the steps under way pointing to a small window of opportunity for pulling the Middle East out of the “abyss” of violence and suffering, the senior United Nations envoy for the region told the Security Council today.

"We have an historic opportunity to establish a vigorous and determined front of peace when elsewhere in the region we are at the brink of war," Terje Roed-Larsen, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said in his briefing to the Council on the latest developments in the region. That front of peace could be a source of long-term stability in the region, but it required dedicated attention and action from all, he added.

For the first time in two-and-a-half years, Mr. Roed-Larsen said he believed there was a real opportunity to not only begin rebuilding the shattered Israeli and Palestinian relationship, but also finally to start implementing a process that could lead to the realization of the shared vision and goals for peace and security in the region. However, it was necessary to get the parties first back to the table, and that required three critical decisions, taken in parallel by the key actors in that process.

First, the Palestinian Authority must make a fundamental decision on reform to re-establish itself as a credible partner for Israel and the international community, Mr. Roed-Larsen stressed. The completion yesterday of the appointment of a credible and empowered Prime Minister was a major step. Now the Palestinian Authority must do everything in its power to curb terrorism and all forms of violence and threats.

Second, the international community, through the Quartet - Russian Federation, United States, European Union and United Nations - must introduce the so-called Road Map, as agreed in its final draft on 20 December. The parties would be asked to make contributions on how best to proceed with its implementation. Finally, the Israeli Government must sit down at the negotiating table on that basis, and take immediate and serious steps to prevent harm to innocent Palestinian civilians and alleviate the widespread suffering caused by its security measures.

ENDS

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