|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN ISRAEL, OCCUPIED
PALESTINIAN TERRITORY, 15-16 JANUARY
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Tel Aviv from Amman in the early morning of Thursday, 15 January.
His first meeting was with Israel’s Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni. Speaking to reporters after that meeting, the Secretary-General denounced in the strongest terms the Israeli attack that morning on a United Nations compound in Gaza. Calling it “outrageous”, he said he had protested to Defence Minister Ehud Barak.
The Secretary‑General said that he believed from his talks in Egypt that the elements were in place for the violence to end. He stressed that the time had come for the violence to stop and for the dynamics in Gaza to change fundamentally, and to pursue again the peace talks for a two‑State solution, “which is the only road to lasting security for Israel”.
The Secretary-General also emphasized that civilian suffering had reached an unbearable point, asserting that the rockets must stop, Israel’s offensive must end and the bloodshed and suffering among the civilian populations must be halted.
He then met with Mr. Barak, the Defence Minister, who told the Secretary-General that the shelling of a United Nations compound that day by the Israeli Defence Forces had been a grave mistake and that he took it very seriously. Mr. Barak assured the Secretary-General that extra attention would be paid to the United Nations facilities and staff, and that this should not be repeated.
In a meeting with Ehud Olmert, Israel’s Prime Minister, Mr. Olmert started the meeting by apologizing for the firing by the Israel Defense Forces on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) compound. The Secretary-General protested again and said it was unacceptable. They went on to discuss the overall situation in Gaza and the Secretary-General called again for an immediate ceasefire.
He later attended a dinner hosted by President Shimon Peres. The Secretary-General spoke to the press afterwards, telling reporters that the Israeli Government would make an important decision on a ceasefire and that he hoped that decision would be the right one, and that Israel would show to the world that it is a responsible Member of the United Nations, abiding by Security Council resolutions.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Ban spoke by videoconference to the staff in the United Nations compound in Gaza, thanking them for their hard work under difficult and often dangerous circumstances.
Also, the Secretary-General spoke by phone that day to United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and to President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, whom he had met the day before in Cairo.
On Friday morning, he had a breakfast meeting with Benyamin Netanyahu, Likud Party Leader, before travelling by road to Ramallah, in the West Bank, where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and discussed efforts to obtain a ceasefire in Gaza, as well as the humanitarian situation there.
Speaking to reporters after those meetings, he emphasized once more that the fighting must stop now, saying: “We have no time to lose.” He said that “a unilateral declaration of a ceasefire would be necessary at this time”, and that he would exert his utmost efforts to realize that goal. He stressed his full support for President Abbas’ leadership, and urged Palestinians to close ranks, saying that Palestinian reconciliation and unity was a prerequisite to any ceasefire becoming durable and sustainable.
He also met with representatives of civil society in Ramallah.
The Secretary-General left on Friday afternoon to Ankara, Turkey.
* *** *For information media • not an official record