IsraeliPalestinian peace climate vastly improved but threats persist Security Council told

“We are convinced that 2005 is a year of opportunity,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast told the Security Council in his monthly briefing, citing the summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinians’ vow to stop acts of violence and Israel’s pledge to cease military activities. “We fervently hope that, as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put it, the international community will help the parties to ‘transform opportunity into achievement,’” Mr. Prendergast added. He also noted that the people across the region had been outraged by the “cold-blooded terror attack that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.” Mr. Prendergast said that by their actions, Mr. Sharon and Mr. Abbas had effectively re-started the Road Map process, the peace plan sponsored by the diplomatic Quartet – the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States – which calls for parallel and reciprocal steps by both sides leading to two States living in peace, originally by the end of 2005. On the Palestinian side, Mr. Prendergast praised Mr. Abbas’ “courageous” actions to end violence, including his deployment of 1,000 security officers along the Gaza Strip’s northern border with Israel, his reorganization of the security forces and his efforts to secure a temporary ceasefire from the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups. “We call on these groups to eschew terror and armed confrontation with Israel and to choose the peaceful, democratic road of negotiations and political activism,” he declared. “The path taken by President Abbas will not be easy. If he is to prevail against those who favour violence over peace, he will need strong support from both Israel and the international community.” But he also noted that “despite the vastly improved political climate” and Israel’s initial measures to ease conditions in the occupied territories, most movement restrictions remain in place in the form of checkpoints, curfews and the permit system. “The lack of improvement in the daily life of ordinary Palestinians poses a serious threat to the viability of a renewed peace process,” he said. Referring to the barrier Israel is building on the West Bank, which cuts off some occupied land and was declared illegal in an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice that called for it to be torn down, he acknowledged Israel’s “right and duty” to protect its people against terrorist attacks. “But, now more than ever, we urge the Government of Israel to address its legitimate security needs in ways that do not increase suffering among Palestinians, pre-judge final status issues or threaten longer-term prospects for peace by making the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state more difficult,” he said. Video of Council meeting [18mins] read more

White paper on housing programme to be tabled in Parliament Harmon

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedAcres of GuySuCo land being considered for Govt’s housing projectMarch 6, 2017In “Local News”Cabinet approves construction of duplexes, townhouses -758 units to be built this yearFebruary 18, 2017In “Local News”$484M supplementary approved to buy 1970s planes for GDFMay 12, 2018In “latest news” One of the new housing initiatives that would be pursued under the government’s new housing programmeMinister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, is set to table in the National Assembly, a white paper ( a government or other authoritative report providing information or proposals on an outlined subject matter ) on the government’s new housing programme. This was announced today, by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon at a post-Cabinet media briefing held at the Ministry of the Presidency.Harmon said that the white paper will provide the National Assembly with a clear understanding of what the government is seeking to achieve with its new programme.The white paper will also provide information pertaining to the construction techniques, the method of payment for units, mortgage arrangement for recipients and the criteria for allocation.In the construction of the houses, the government would seek to focus mainly using local contractors and indigenous materials including local wood species.Harmon explained that guidelines would be issued to the contractors stating the government’s preference for the use of local building materials, taking cognisance of where the houses will be built.The government’s new programme, which has private sector involvement, has moved away from the allocation of house lots to providing actual houses in the form of apartments and duplexes.Harmon explained that the housing programme inherited from the previous administration was “ineffective” since it largely focused on the distribution of house lots to citizens. “The thrust by our government is to build communities, and this will be the focus of the housing sector development,” he said.Cabinet recently approved the roll-out of the first phase of the new housing programme. Approval was given for $5 Billion to be spent on the delivery and construction of 758 housing units in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10.Minister Harmon said today, that the construction of the houses and several other components of the housing programme are expected to commence in the second quarter of 2017.The government’s new housing programme targets particularly, public sector employees, youths and low income earners. read more