United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday said that after a new Israeli government has been sworn in he will investigate whether there are "realistic options" for a return to peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), Reuters reports.
"Once a new government has been sworn in, the Secretary-General will explore with Prime Minister Netanyahu realistic options for a return to meaningful negotiations on a two state solution," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, after Netanyahu was able to clinch a deal to form a coalition hours before a deadline.
Dujarric also said Ban was "deeply concerned by recent announcements by Israeli authorities of plans for 900 settlement units in East Jerusalem which are illegal under international law."
He was referring to Israel’s approval earlier Thursday of construction of 900 homes in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.
There have been calls on Israel to resume peace talks with the PA, but the international community has also expressed concern after Netanyahu vowed in interviews during the election campaign that he would never allow the establishment of a Palestinian state under his watch.
Netanyahu later backtracked on his comments but the United States appeared unconvinced and Ban urged him to renew his commitment to a two-state solution.
New Zealand said it is working on a draft UN resolution to revive the long-stalled peace talks. The move from New Zealand, which was elected as one of the 10 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, reflected growing impatience within the council over the failure to agree on a UN approach for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The Security Council in December rejected a resolution that would have set a deadline for reaching a final peace deal and pave the way to the creation of a Palestinian state.
Meanwhile the PA, which torpedoed the last round of talks by unilaterally joining international organizations in breach of the talk’s conditions, lamented the shape of the new Israeli government on Thursday.
The PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, claimed the new government "will be one of war which will be against peace and stability in our region."