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For Israel and Palestine one choice stands above all: Whether to choose peace or death, says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki moon

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Addressing the Security Council over the situation in Middle East, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki moon on Tuesday said that the resolution of Israeli-Palestinian conflict issue lies in the peace talks.

“For both sides in Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one choice stands above all: Whether to choose peace or death,” Ban Ki moon said in New York.

Too many lives have been lost, too many families have been destroyed, too many livelihoods have been shattered, and too much distrust has been sown, added Ban Ki moon.

Expressing his concern over the conflict, the Secretary-General said, “Over the years, we have seen determined efforts to achieve a comprehensive, negotiated peace based on a two-state solution.  Instead of peace, however, there have been decades of missed opportunities and failures that have come at an enormous human cost.  The prospect of a two-state solution continues to recede, with potentially explosive consequences,”

Ban Ki moon urged the new Israeli government to reaffirm Israel’s commitment to the two-state solution and take credible steps to foster an environment conducive to a return to meaningful negotiations.

“Seven months since my last visit to Gaza, I continue to be concerned by the fragile security situation, the lack of progress on intra-Palestinian reconciliation and the pace of reconstruction, ” the Secretary-General said, and added, ” The impact of the conflict and of extreme poverty on Palestinians in Gaza has been severe.  I urge the international community to support a second humanitarian payment to Palestinian civil servants in Gaza as an integral part of the necessary and agreed crucial reforms.”

The international community must do more to promote a return to negotiations that will end nearly half a century of occupation and allow two states, Israel and Palestine, to live side-by-side in security and peace, he said.

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Israel’s Private Spacecraft to Shoot For Moon

Israeli private spacecraft shoots for Moon

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Earth starts to cast its shadow on the moon during a complete lunar eclipse seen from Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 28, 2018. VOA

Aiming to become the fourth country to make a soft landing on the Moon, Israel’s non-profit SpaceIL has announced it will launch a spacecraft from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Thursday on board a Falcon 9 rocket.

The unmanned craft, weighing 1,300 pounds and standing approximately five feet tall, will then begin an about seven-week journey to the Moon, from where it will send back images of the rocky surface and conduct experiments on the lunar magnetic field.

The spacecraft is called “Beresheet,” a reference to the first words of the Bible in Hebrew: “In the beginning…”

For decades, the Moon was the exclusive domain of the superpowers. The Soviet Union landed Luna 2 on the Earth’s nearest neighbour in 1959. Three years later, the US landed Ranger 4 on the Moon.

These were “hard landings,” meaning the craft crashed into the Moon. The first “soft landings” for both countries came in 1966, when spacecraft made controlled descents to the lunar surface.

It would take nearly another 50 years for a third country to perform a soft Moon landing, when China’s Chang’e 3 did it in 2013.

If Israel’s spacecraft venture proceeds as planned, it would become the fourth — and by far the smallest — country to do so. It would also become the first private enterprise to make a controlled landing on the Moon, with the smallest spacecraft to do it, and by far the least expensive mission.

The total cost of the programme, raised from private donations, is $100 million, a small fraction of the billions of dollars invested in the US space program.

The moon is seen near the Illimani mountain during a full lunar eclipse in La Paz, Bolivia, July 27, 2018. Photo: Reuters.

“This mission that we were talking about was really a mission impossible,” said entrepreneur Morris Kahn, who donated $40 million to the project.

“The only thing is I didn’t realize it was impossible, and the three engineers that started this project didn’t think it was impossible, and the way Israel thinks, nothing is impossible… We are really making this dream come true,” Kahn added.

SpaceIL was founded eight years ago to compete in the Google Lunar X Prize, an international competition to see whether a private enterprise could land a spacecraft on the moon, move 500 meters in any direction, and transmit live, high-definition video from the lunar surface.

The competition was canceled in January 2018 when none of the five teams left in the competition was able to meet the March deadline for a launch.

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But some of the teams persisted, determined to land on the Moon even without the incentive of $30 million in prize money.

SpaceIL pressed on, signing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch their craft to the Moon on board a Falcon 9 rocket, which is scheduled for launch on February 21.

Beresheet will travel approximately 4 million miles on its journey, circling the earth multiple times to gain speed before it slingshots towards the moon. It is scheduled to land on April 11. (IANS)