UNITED NATIONS, May 16 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in separate phone talks during the last two days, discussed the Middle East peace process with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, a spokesman told reporters here on Thursday.
"In the past two days, the secretary-general had phone conversations with the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas," said Eduardo del Buey, Ban's deputy spokesperson, at the daily briefing.
In each phone discussion, "they discussed the Middle East peace process and the situation on the ground, including in East Jerusalem," del Buey said.
According to him, during the talks, the secretary-general strongly encouraged the ongoing efforts toward the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and expressed his hope that they will lead to a substantial peace initiative soon.
The UN chief stressed the importance for the parties to "create the conditions conducive to a resumption of meaningful negotiations," said del Buey.
The negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians came to a full halt in 2010 over the Israeli settlement construction as the Palestinians want Israel to halt all kinds of building and expansion of settlements.
In the phone conversations, the secretary-general also discussed "recent tensions in East Jerusalem, and more particularly restrictions of access to Muslim and Christian holy sites," the spokesperson said.
He said that Ban conveyed his concerns to the Israeli authorities, urging Israel to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law.
"The secretary-general stressed to both leaders the importance of respect for the religious freedom of all, and that worshippers of all faiths should have access to their holy sites," del Buey said.
Moreover, according to the spokesperson, with regard to the regional situation, the UN chief reiterated that all should act responsibly and abide by international law to prevent escalation.
According to reports, Israeli police have temporarily barred non-Muslim tourists from entering a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem after Palestinian demonstrations.
On Wednesday, violence erupted as the Palestinians held an annual day of mourning and protests over the displacement of millions of Palestinians following Israel's creation in 1948.