RAMALLAH, West Bank – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived here Thursday in a bid to boost Palestinian-Israeli negotiations launched in Jerusalem the day before after three years of deadlock.
Speaking at a news conference in Ramallah with his host, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Ban expressed strong support for U.S. efforts to revive the peace talks, promising to do everything he could as U.N. chief to reach the goal of two states for two people: Palestinians and Israelis.
However, he warned that Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem could hamper the process.
Abbas said that the negotiations with Israel are supposed to tackle all permanent status issues, including borders, Jerusalem, settlements, security and prisoners.
Though the negotiations have just started, he expressed hope that "within six to nine months, we will be able to solve all our final status issues and establish our independent state with Jerusalem as its capital."
While in Ramallah, Ban met with designated Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who was asked by Abbas on Tuesday to form a new Palestinian government, the sixth since Abbas was elected as president in 2005.
Hamdallah resigned from office in June, only two weeks after forming a government. He remained on as caretaker for seven weeks until Abbas asked him again to form the new government, which he is expected to do within five weeks.