U.N. alarmed by ‘downward spiral’ of Israelis, Palestinians

The U.N. calls on Israel to unlock Palestinian tax payment

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Israelis and Palestinians on Thursday to end provocations not exacerbate existing divisions, saying he was alarmed at the “downward spiral” of actions and counter actions between the two parties.

Israel is withholding critical tax revenue and seeking ways to bring war crimes prosecutions against Palestinian leaders in retaliation for the Palestinian moves to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“We call on Israel to immediately resume the transfer of tax revenues,” U.N. deputy political affairs chief Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen told the U.N. Security Council.

"The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is now entering unchartered territory, which, lamentably, seems to have dashed any immediate hope for a return to peace talks," the U.N. chief said.

The Arab League said on Thursday that it would seek to shore up international support for another attempt to obtain a U.N. resolution on ending Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands.

The decision at a gathering of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo came after Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas asked them for another chance following the U.N. Security Council's rejection of his last bid in December.

Those at the meeting gave several Arab countries the task of undertaking "the necessary communications and consultations to submit a new Arab proposal to the Security Council," a statement said.

After last month's failed U.N. bid, the Palestinians were granted a request to join the International Criminal Court, in a move paving the way for them to pursue Israeli leaders for alleged war crimes.

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