UN resolution a positive step in promoting Middle East peace process
by Gu Zhenqiu
UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council passed on Tuesday a resolution on the Middle East peace process, the first such document by the UN body in five years, signaling earnest UN efforts in resolving Palestinian-Israeli conflicts and restoring peace in the region.
The resolution, which voiced fresh calls for a two-state solution under which a Palestinian state can live alongside Israel in peace, is really a positive step given the lack of progress on the matter since the Annapolis meeting 13 months ago, analysts say.
The UN resolution is seen as a product of consensus among world powers as it was drafted first by the United States, presented to the Security Council as a Russia-U.S. joint initiative, and gained14 votes in favor from the 15 council members. Libya, the only Arab member of the Security Council, abstained.
Speaking at the council meeting before the vote, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "This is a very important meeting for the cause of peace in the Middle East, and for the central role of the Security Council in achieving it".
The dire reality in the Middle East has long been proven to be a thorny problem for the international community and the situation on the ground has become even more complicated in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States. For example, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority is committed to the Quartet principles while Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2006, does not recognize Israel's right to exist.
The United Nations has been making great efforts in eliminating the rifts in this regard based on various international peace initiatives by the Quartet and Arab world.
The Quartet is championing the Roadmap, which calls for two states, Israel and Palestine, to live side by side in peace. The Arab Peace Initiative, adopted in March 2002 on the principle of "land for peace", calls for Israel to withdraw from all Arab lands occupied since 1967, recognize an independent Palestinian state and provide a just solution for Palestinian refugees. And in return, Arab countries should recognize Israel, end their conflict and normalize relations.
"The occupation that began in 1967 must end. All people in the Middle East should be able to enjoy peace and full security", Ban said at the high-level council meeting.
"Palestinians must see the establishment of a state of Palestine alongside Israel, to coexist with it in peace and security. And Israel and the Arab world must come to live together in a comprehensive regional peace".
However, to bring peace to the Middle East depends on how the Palestinians and Israelis try to honor their relevant obligations.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the council meeting that the "adoption of the resolution is not an absolute guarantee ... Much will depend on the ability of Israel and the Palestinians to honor their obligations, notably in the area of security".
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also said Israel and the Palestinians "must lead the process" though the responsibility is for all countries in the region to shoulder since "the only sustainable peace must be a 23-state solution, not just a two-state solution -- 22 Arab states and Israel living side by side in security".
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei, also attending the council meeting, urged both Israelis and Palestinians to implement in earnest effort their respective obligations and refrain from undertaking actions that might undermine mutual trust or prejudge results of negotiations.
"We have hoped by now to be making the conclusion of a peace agreement, and turning our sights to its implementation. We all regret that this is not the case", the UN Secretary-General Ben Ki-moon said, in allusion to an agreement between Israeli and Palestinian leaders at the Annapolis meeting in November 2008 to re-launch the stalled peace talks aimed to hammer out a comprehensive peace treaty by the end of 2008.
"But a serious process is underway. We must ensure that what has been started is seen all the way through to its conclusion", the UN chief said.