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UN encourages two-state solution to Palestinian-Israeli conflict
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The UN Security Council Tuesday adopted a resolution to encourage the successful implementation of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which means a Palestinian state can enjoy peace alongside a secure Israel.

Libya, a nonpermanent member and the only Arab member of the UN council, abstained from voting while other 14 council members voted for the draft resolution, jointly tabled by Russia and the United States.

The resolution said the 15-nation Security Council reiterated "its vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders."

The new resolution, adopted at a ministerial meeting of the Security Council, is the first council resolution on the Israel-Palestinian conflict in five years.

Also at the meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Palestinians must see the establishment of a Palestinian state, which can live in peace alongside a secure Israel.

Present at the meeting include Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and He Yafei, China's vice minister of foreign affairs.

"Lasting peace can only be based on an enduring commitment to mutual recognition, freedom from violence, incitement, and terror, and the two-state solution, building upon previous agreements and obligations," the resolution said.

The resolution encouraged the ongoing work by the diplomatic group on the Middle East peace process, or Quartet, to "support the parties in their efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."

The resolution was adopted a day after a meeting of the Quartet partners at the UN Headquarters in New York to push forward the peace process in the Middle East. Quartet groups the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States.

The Security Council voiced its support for the negotiations initiated at Annapolis, Maryland on Nov. 27 2007 and its commitment to the irreversibility of the bilateral negotiations, the resolution said.

The Security Council called on both Palestinians and Israelis to "fulfill their obligations under the Performance-Based Roadmap, as stated in their Annapolis Joint Understanding, and refrain from any steps that could undermine confidence or prejudice the outcome of negotiations," the resolution said.

The Security Council supported "the parties' agreed principles for the bilateral negotiating process and their determined efforts to reach their goal of concluding a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues, without exception, which confirm the seriousness of the Annapolis process," the resolution said.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed last November at the U.S.-hosted international conference in Annapolis to re-launch the stalled peace talks aimed to hammer out a comprehensive peace treaty by the end of 2008. However, since Annapolis, the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have made little substantial progress due to deep rifts on sensitive issues.

The Security Council urged "an intensification of diplomatic efforts to foster in parallel with progress in the bilateral process mutual recognition and peaceful coexistence between all States in the region in the context of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East," the resolution said.

The Security Council called on all States and international organizations "to contribute to an atmosphere conducive to negotiations and to support the Palestinian government that is committed to the Quartet principles and the Aran Peace Initiative and respects the commitments of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, to assist in the development of the Palestinian economy, to maximize the resources available to the Palestinian Authority, and to contribute to the Palestinian institution-building program in preparation for statehood," the resolution said.

The Quartet has called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state living in peace together with Israel. Various security and political steps have to be carried out before the two-state solution is achieved under what is known as a road map to end the lengthy conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The resolution was adopted just a few weeks before the swear-in of Barack Obama as the new U.S. president in Washington. Ban told a press conference here Monday that he thanks the outgoing U.S. administration for its "tireless" efforts to promote the Middle East peace process and is looking forward to working closely with the new president in this regard.

Before the council kicked off the Tuesday ministerial meeting, Libya's UN Ambassador Giadallah Ettalhi criticized the draft resolution and he told reporters before he entered the council hall that "Ignoring completely what Israel is doing there I think will not help ... support for this draft resolution."

(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2008)

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