UN chief seeks to breathe fresh life into peace talks

Ban to host key global players trying to end Israeli-Palestinian conflict on sidelines of UN General Assembly this month

Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speaking to Ban Ki-moon in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speaking to Ban Ki-moon in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will host a ministerial meeting of key global players trying to end the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Sept. 30 during the annual high-level session of the General Assembly, the United Nations announced Friday.

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that in addition to foreign ministers from the Quartet of Mideast mediators — the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia — the secretary-general is inviting the Arab League secretary-general and the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to join the meeting.

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled since the United States failed to broker a peace agreement in early 2014. The Quartet was sidelined by the US-led efforts, but their failure opened the possibility of a broader international effort to tackle the conflict.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, however, have been unable to agree on ground rules for negotiations. Netanyahu said Tuesday he was willing to meet Abbas “right now” to resume peace negotiations without preconditions. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat dismissed his remarks as a PR stunt, calling the prime minister “the king of the settlers,” Israel Radio said.

Abbas is scheduled to address the General Assembly on Sept. 30, the same day Ban will host the ministerial meeting.

Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour said Thursday he hopes Abbas will be able to raise the Palestinian flag outside UN headquarters for the first time that day. He said this could “keep hope alive” among Palestinians at a time when “the political process is dead.”

The 193-member General Assembly is scheduled to vote Sept. 10 on a resolution, opposed by Israel, that would allow non-member observer states — Palestine and the Holy See — to raise their flags. Mansour said he expects “an overwhelming majority” of states to support it.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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