Saturday, September 26, 2020

Ban Ki Moon to Palestinian youth: "put down your weapons of despair"

By Cath And - October 22, 2015
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [UN]

After repeatedly expressing his concern about the escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that he would travel to the region Tuesday “in an effort to help defuse the current tensions.”


A press statement released Tuesday stated that during the visit, the Secretary-General would meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as well as with “Israeli and Palestinian victims of the recent hostilities and terror attacks.”


In a video message released Oct. 19, Ban stated that, “violence will only undermine the legitimate Palestinian aspirations for statehood and the longing of Israelis for security.”


Addressing the youth of Palestine, he stated “I understand your frustration. I know your hopes for peace have been dashed countless times.”


“You are angry at the continued occupation and expansion of settlements. Many of you are disappointed in your leaders and in us, the international community, because of our inability to end this occupation.”


He added “I am not asking you to be passive, but you must put down the weapons of despair.”


Ban stated that the people of both Israel and Palestine need “to see a political horizon to break this cycle of violence and fear.”


Later this week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will also make a short visit to the region. He will meet with Netanyahu in Berlin Thursday and with Abbas and King Abdullah of Jordan Saturday.


In Berlin, Netanyahu will meet with EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini who is also making efforts to negotiate an end to the wave of violence.


One goal of Kerry’s meetings is to “upgrade and clarify” the understandings concerning Haram Al-Sharif, where Al-Aqsa mosque is located.


From mid-September, clashes began erupting in the Old City of Jerusalem and subsequently spread across the West Bank, Gaza and Israel after Israeli forces began imposing entrance restrictions for Muslims.


The Jordanian government has authority over the site, and a status quo had prevailed in which Muslims may pray at Al-Aqsa mosque, and Jews at the nearby Western Wall.


Many Palestinians began to fear in September that the Israeli authorities were attempting to alter this status quo and exert more control over the site.


During a news conference in Madrid, Kerry stated that it was important that the status quo was upheld and that “everybody understands what that means.”


On the first day of Ban Ki-moon’s visit, both Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the Secretary-General and discussed the situation at Haram al-Sharif.


President Rivlin met the Secretary-General at his residence Tuesday afternoon, and stated “The Temple Mount [Haram al-Sharif] is being held hostage by people who want to bring about a religious war. We cannot allow this. Israel has no war with Islam.”


Netanyahu met Ban in Jerusalem Tuesday evening and insisted that Israel is maintaining the status quo at Haram al-Sharif. He claimed that the violence of recent weeks could be traced to the fact that “President Abbas has joined ISIS and Hamas in claiming that Israel threatens the al-Aqsa mosque.”


During the meeting with Netanyahu, Ban expressed sympathy with those who had been killed and injured in the recent attacks in Israel, but he urged Netanyahu to respond without the excessive use of force, for which the Prime Minister and the Israeli army have been criticised in recent weeks.


“Security measures can be counterproductive if they are applied without special efforts to defuse situations before people lose their lives.  If the use of force is not properly calibrated, it may breed the very frustrations and anxieties, from which violence tends to erupt.”


After meeting with Netanyahu and Rivlin, Ban travelled to Ramallah to hold a joint press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


Ban emphasised that “violence is not the way,” continuing, “violence will not bring a just and lasting peace, but will only push back the day when Palestinians will achieve statehood and both sides will live in peace and security.”


He continued to “urge Palestinians and Israelis alike to show courage and find their way back to a meaningful peace process.”


Former US President Bill Clinton, who contributed to the negotiations of the Oslo Accords in the early 90s, has stated that a peace deal between Israel and Palestine remains possible despite the violence of recent weeks.


Clinton believes this peace is still possible for the “simple reason that Israel is still worried about Iran,” he stated in an interview with Al Jazeera.


“Netanyahu is now in a better position than he has been in a long time to make some sort of more comprehensive agreement with the Palestinians, if - but only if - he can sell it as part of a rapprochement with people who will help them be secure against terror and Iran.”


During his visit, Ban stated that much of the violence which has escalated in recent weeks can be traced to a lack of faith in the peace process. Ban urged both sides to remember “there can be no de-escalation of violence without a re-emergence of hope.”



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