Israel’s settlement activity on Palestinian territories remains the key obstacle to the resolution of the Middle East conflict, the UN secretary general said.
“Settlement activity is a major obstacle to the two-State solution and must cease immediately,” Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday at the opening of the 2013 session of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
“I repeat that all settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and cannot prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations,” he said.
“Negotiations must result in an agreement ending the conflict and the occupation that began in 1967 and leading to two States – Israel and Palestine – living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition of each other’s legitimate rights, including self-determination,” Ban said.
In November 2012, the General Assembly recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state.
The Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of West Bank, East Jerusalem, partially occupied by Israel, and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and want Israel to pull from the Palestinian territories occupied after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
Israel, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to raise the issue of Jerusalem, which it says is the indivisible capital of the Jewish state.