MIDDLE EAST TENSIONS MUST BE DE-ESCALATED, BAN STRESSES TO ISRAELI LEADER
New York, Nov 22 2011 7:10PM
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today the need to de-escalate the current tensions in the Middle East so that direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians can resume as soon as possible.
Speaking by telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Ban appealed to him to immediately resume the transfer of Palestinian tax and customs revenues, in line with Israel's legal obligations, according to <"http://www.un.org/apps/sg/offthecuff.asp?nid=2097">information provided by the Secretary-General's spokesperson.
The conversation took place a day after Robert Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council that Israel and the Palestinians must refrain from provocations and submit concrete proposals to try to revive the stalled peace process.
In his conversation with Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Ban also expressed his deep concern about Israel's announcement of further settlement expansions, including in East Jerusalem, which he noted undermine current peace efforts and violate international law.
But the Secretary-General welcomed Israel's approval of $5.5 million in new UN construction projects in the Gaza Strip, while calling for further measures towards lifting the closure of Gaza, in line with an earlier Security Council resolution.