UN Secretary-General Slams Syrian Violence; Calls for Mideast Peace

UNITED NATIONS—Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the end of violence in Syria and for a negotiated settlement in the Israel-Palestinian peace process in his speech at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. The Middle East is expected to be a key region at the United Nations this week with the Palestinians expected to request full UN membership and statehood recognition.

Speaking to heads of state and delegations from around the world, Ban said in his speech that both the Israelis and the Palestinians want peace. Said the Secretary-General, “In the Middle East, we must break the stalemate… We pledge our unrelenting efforts to help achieve that peace through a negotiated settlement.”

Even if the Palestinians manage to achieve UN membership, it is generally understood that the only way for statehood to be realized would be through a negotiated arrangement with Israel. However, full UN membership can only be achieved through the UN Security Council, where the US has stated its intention to veto such a Palestinian resolution. The US has said they do not believe unilateral action at the UN is the appropriate venue for addressing Palestinian aspirations.

Israel has repeatedly called for the renewal of peace talks. The Palestinians have expressed a willingness to talk, but only after their preconditions are met.

Aside from the Israel-Palestinian matter, Ban also expressed strong concerns regarding the situation in Syria, where the government has continued to brutally repress the Syrian protesters challenging the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Said Ban, “Syria is a special concern. For six months we have seen escalating violence and repression. The government has repeatedly pledged to undertake reforms and listen to its people. It has not done so. The moment to act is now. The violence must stop.”

The US and Europe have sanctioned the Syria regime over their actions, but the UN Security Council has yet to pass similar measures.

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, September 21, 2011)