UN confronts Israel on two-state peace

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The UN security council has pressed Tel Aviv to commit to the creation of an independent Palestinian state in order to achieve 'a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.'

After a debate on Monday chaired by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose country presides over the 15-member council this month, ministers unanimously adopted a non-binding presidential statement which emphasised that such peace should be 'based on the vision of a region where two democratic states - Israel and Palestine - live side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders.'

It stressed the need for 'vigorous diplomatic action to attain the goal set by the international community - lasting peace in the region, 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.'

Neither Israel or the Palestinians took part in the discussion, but Palestinian envoys called on the international community to pressure the new hard-line Israeli administration to comply with relevant UN security council resolutions, noting that there was a broad international consensus in favour of the establishment of a Palestinian state - after Israel withdraws from the occupied territories.

Israel's ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev responded to the robustly worded UN statement by saying that Tel Aviv 'does not believe that the involvement of the security council contributes to the political process in the Middle East.'