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Ban Ki-moon: Two-state solution needed ‘more than ever’

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(Al Arabiya) U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called Monday for renewed efforts to achieve a two-state solution in the Middle East following last week’s ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

“More than ever, we need a negotiated two-state solution ending the occupation and the conflict,” he said at the inauguration of a new center for interreligious dialogue in Vienna.

“I am determined to ensure that the ceasefire is sustainable. Both sides must adhere to the agreement,” Ban said of the truce achieved last Wednesday between Israel and Hamas after a week of deadly attacks on both sides.

But this was not enough, he said.

“The underlying issues must be addressed. This is critical to regional stability. A just and comprehensive peace is our ultimate goal — and it is the only way to bring lasting security to all.”

Ban was speaking at the inauguration of the controversial new King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID).

Critics say the Saudi-backed center — financed by Riyadh and named after its king, despite backing also from Austria, Spain and the Vatican — will only distract from Saudi Arabia’s lack of religious freedom and do little to bring about real dialogue and concrete results.

But in the light of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and further violence and religious divisions in Syria and Mali, Ban insisted the KAICIID was still very relevant.

“We need look no further than today’s headlines to understand why this mission is so vital,” he said.

These crises “are just some of the reminders of how important it is to promote long-term mutual understanding that transcends religious, national, cultural and ethnic boundaries and identities.”

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