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After Gaza success, mutual plan still the only way

After Gaza success, mutual plan still the only way to Mid East peace: UN envoy

Even given the successful unilateral Israeli disengagement from Gaza, the only way forward to a comprehensive Middle East peace is for Israelis and Palestinians to take the mutually reinforcing steps outlined by the diplomatic Quartet, a senior United Nations envoy told the Security Council today.

"The objective benefits of the disengagement recently concluded are obvious and fairly easy to tick off," the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Alvaro de Soto, said in the monthly briefing on the situation.

He mentioned in particular Palestinians experiencing "the joy of the departure of the occupier" and Israelis freed of "the Sisyphus-like grind" of the occupation. Moreover, "Israel has demonstrated that it can make the sacrifices that are required to make peace; the Palestinians have shown restraint in the face of unilateral decisions and tight time frames."

"A basis has been laid for a true partnership, which should encourage each party to understand and address the other's legitimate needs and concerns," he summed up.

However, without the Quartet's so-called Road Map, which calls for parallel steps from both sides leading to two States living together in peace, there was no way to break out of the cycle of mutual distrust.

Accordingly, Mr. de Soto said, all Palestinians have not renounced the use of violence and Israel's need for security led it to build its barrier, creating facts on the ground.

In this situation, he said, "it is unfortunately difficult to circumvent the classic chicken and egg conundrum: Israeli leaders demand an end to violence before addressing further Palestinian concerns."

"Palestinian leaders," at the same time he said, "find it difficult to persuade extremists to restrain themselves and accept to work toward democracy if they are unable to point to a visible prospect of satisfaction of their legitimate goals on the horizon."

Only by taking mutual steps to restore good faith, as outlined in the Road Map, can they address each other's needs and concerns, Mr. de Soto concluded.

Following Mr. De Soto’s briefing, the Security Council expressed support for the statement issued in New York on 20 September by the Quartet, which welcomed the successful conclusion of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and urged further measures to improve the Palestinian economy, end terrorism and resume negotiations toward a lasting settlement.

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