UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 2 (Saba) -- UN Secretary-general Ban Ki- moon has voiced his hope that Israel would extend the freeze on the settlement construction, which lasted for 10 months before expiring on Sept. 26, in order to pave the way for successful Israeli-Palestinian talks, Ban's spokesman said here on Saturday, according to Xinhua.
The secretary-general expressed his hope when he made separate telephone calls to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and George Mitchell, the U.S. envoy for the Middle East, the spokesman said in a statement issued here on Saturday morning.
Ban "renewed his hope that the government of Israel would extend its settlement restraint policy and underscored the need to create a conducive environment for successful negotiations," said the statement.
Under the U.S. auspices, Netanyahu and Abbas began the first round of direct peace talks in 17 months in Washington in early September. The Palestinians initially threatened to drop out of the peace talks if the Israelis failed to extend the settlement moratorium.
"He (Ban) reiterated his belief that negotiations are the only way for Israel and the Palestinians to resolve all final status issues and realize their aspirations," the statement said. "In each case, the secretary-general discussed with his interlocutor the current status of the direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians."
"He welcomed continuing U.S. efforts to sustain direct talks and offered his continued support to efforts to promote peace," the statement said. "He encouraged Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to continue their efforts to find a way forward."
Last week, Ban reiterated in a statement that "settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law."
In late September, the Middle East Quartet, which groups the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States, issued a statement with a united call of the international community urging Israel to extend the settlement restraint policy.
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