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Russia: UN meet to give 'impetus' to Mideast peace

Russia: UN meet to give 'impetus' to Mideast peace

Russia has invited Security Council ministers to a meeting next Monday to give "new impetus" to the Middle East peace process, including the creation of a Palestinian state existing peacefully alongside Israel.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who holds the council presidency this month, told a news conference on Monday that "the meeting will reaffirm the council's involvement in the search for a Middle East settlement."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will preside at the May 11 meeting, and Churkin said some ministers have already accepted so "I think we'll have a good gathering here." The only speakers will be representatives of the 15 council nations and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, he said.
Last December, the Security Council approved a resolution stressing that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process initiated by the United States in 2008 is irreversible and urging intensified efforts to achieve peace throughout the Middle East.
The resolution, co-sponsored by the United States and Russia, backed "the determined efforts" by Israel and the Palestinians to conclude a peace treaty and fulfill the vision that they can live peacefully side by side as independent democratic states.
The negotiating process, launched by former President George W. Bush at Annapolis, Maryland, in November 2007, called for the Israelis and Palestinians to try to end their decades-long conflict and sign a peace agreement by the end of 2008. That goal would have given Bush a diplomatic victory just before turning the presidency over to Barack Obama _ but it was not to be.
While Israel's previous government, led by Prime Minster Ehud Olmert, was committed to the goal of Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peaceful independent states _ as called for in several Security Council resolutions _ his hawkish successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, has expressed misgivings about an independent Palestinian state.
In the month since he became prime minister, Netanyahu has pointed to Hamas' takeover of Gaza as a precedent and warned that turning over land to the Palestinians can bring violent extremists to power, endangering Israel. Netanyahu has instead offered the Palestinians "economic peace." His contentious foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has dismissed peace efforts by the previous U.S. administration.
Churkin said he expects diplomats attending the ministerial meeting to discuss the council's role "and measures to be taken to resume the peace process, normalize the situation in the region, and implement the council's decisions on that issue."
Russia is currently drafting a presidential statement to be adopted by council members at the end of the meeting, he said.
"We are concerned about the need to maintain the negotiations which have been taking place over the years," Churkin said. "We'll be looking to reaffirmation of the council's positions, and we expect that this is going to be reflected in the presidential statement."
Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union are also members of the Quartet of key international players trying to revive Mideast peace efforts. But Churkin said he did not expect a Quartet meeting on the sidelines of the council meeting.


Updated : 2021-07-31 10:04 GMT+08:00