Dalia Rabie
Last updated: 20 November, 2012

UN and Arab League chiefs worry about the stability of the region

Arab League Secretary General Nabil El-Araby highlighted the need to reevaluate negotiation mechanisms between Palestine and Israel during a joint press conference with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as they both appealed for an immediate ceasefire.

“We need to take a different route in order to achieve peace in the Middle East,” El-Araby said at the conference held in Cairo Tuesday, adding that the Arab states do not accept the current “stalemate” that is a waste of time and which leads to Israel acquiring more Palestinian land.

On his part, Ban praised the Arab League’s efforts, adding that he is here “to appeal personally for an end to the violence and offer help for an immediate ceasefire.”

“Families and children are dying, Israelis and Palestinians live in fear of the next strike,” he said.

Around 110 Palestinians have died, including 27 children, since Israel launched operation Pillar of Defense on Nov. 14 in Gaza. Three Israelis also died last week when a Gaza missile struck their house.

Both Al-Araby and Ban expressed concern of an “unacceptable and dangerous” situation, with the latter warning of further escalation, including a ground operation, unless serious steps are taken.

Ban urged all parties to halt fire immediately and respect obligations outlined by international law in order to protect civilians, “and that applies to those with weapons and those giving them orders,” he said.

“Further escalation will put the entire region at risk,” he warned.

Ban explained that the ongoing bloodshed impedes negotiations that can lead to a two-state solution and end the occupation.

During his visit to the region, the UN secretary general is scheduled to head to Tel Aviv to urge Israeli leadership to end the violence and respect obligations set upon it by international and humanitarian law. He is also slated to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah to discuss the possibility of a two-state solution.

El-Araby said that the Arab League is sending a delegation of foreign ministers to Gaza including Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and Turkish Foreign Minister Daoud Oglo.

The UN and Arab League chiefs also expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in Syria, calling for an end to the violence.

They both highlighted the need to initiate a transitional period “to meet the aspirations of the Syrian people,” Ban said.

While he lamented the “horrendous violations of human rights” in Syria and the displacement of many Syrians, Ban praised its neighboring countries for offering refuge to those who fled the violence.

He appealed to the international community to contribute to humanitarian programs to help Syria as well as its neighboring countries to aid the refugees.