Ban urges Israeli govt to freeze settlements
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday urged the incoming Israeli right-wing government to freeze settlements, stop unilateral actions in Jerusalem and ease conditions in Gaza, at the opening of the Arab summit.
"The new Israeli government must allow people and goods to move (into Gaza). It must freeze settlements, cease unilateral actions in Jerusalem and continue negotiations," Ban said, while praising an Arab peace offer.
Ban said residents of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip were suffering and that the situation at the crossing points into the impoverished territory is "intolerable."
Israeli prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu will present his government to parliament on Tuesday, an official with his right-wing Likud party said.
Ban also said he was "encouraged" by the commitment of US President Barack Obama to prioritise the Middle East process.
"I sense a renewed conviction in the entire international community that this conflict does not just need to be managed; it needs to be settled," he said.
He praised an Arab peace initiative, on offer since 2002, as being central to help reaching a settlement.
"The Arab peace initiative embodies this principle, and I will continue to support all efforts to place it at the centre of the search for comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace," he said.
The Saudi-inspired initiative offers Israel a full normalisation of ties in return for its withdrawal from the occupied territories.
Ban also reiterated Monday UN calls on Sudan to reverse its decision to expel 13 international aid groups from war-ravaged Darfur, at an Arab summit attended by wanted Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir.
"I urge the Sudanese authorities once again to reverse this decision," Ban said addressing Arab leaders in Doha, including Beshir who is facing an international arrest warrant for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
"I remain extremely concerned by the government's decision to expel key international non-governmental organisations, and suspend the work of three national NGOs that provide life-sustaining services for more than one million people," he said.
"Despite the efforts of Sudanese line ministries, UN agencies and the remaining NGOs, the gaps cannot be filled with existing capacities," he added.
Khartoum had expelled the NGOs after the International Criminal Court on March 4 issued an arrest warrant for Beshir.
It has said the expulsion is irreversible, but on Thursday Beshir said during a visit to Libya that he would welcome new humanitarian "partners" in Darfur.