Ban more determined than ever after Gaza war to achieve Middle East peace

Children play amongst ruin in Gaza.

11 February 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today his recent visit to war-wracked Gaza had left him more determined than ever to achieve the two-State solution of Israel and Palestine living side by side in security as well as a lasting peace between Israel and all its Arab neighbours.

“The peace process must be revitalized, and negotiations should resume leading to a lasting settlement of the conflict, based on relevant Security Council resolutions, the Road Map, and the Arab Peace Initiative,” he told the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, referring to the two-State solution and the Saudi plan for full Arab peace with Israel in return for full withdrawal from territory it seized in 1967.

“I renew my pledge to do all I can to ensure that this goal is achieved. The international community must also do its part. This is now more urgent than ever.”

Mr. Ban reiterated his demand that all Gaza crossings from Israel be re-opened to allow full access for humanitarian goods, and eventually commercial traffic, following the three-week Israeli offensive launched in December with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks by Hamas and other groups.

At least 1,300 Palestinians were killed and some 5,300 were injured in the heavy bombardment and fighting in the densely populated areas of Gaza, which reduced homes, schools, hospitals and marketplaces to rubble. Fourteen Israelis were killed and more than 530 injured

“Hundreds of thousands of civilians, including children, have suffered deep psychological trauma. Many Gazans are now dislocated, having lost family members and homes. Some 90 per cent of Gaza’s population now require food aid,” Mr. Ban said.

“The civilian populations in both Gaza and southern Israel bore the brunt of the fighting, destruction and suffering. People who had already endured much hardship for many years have been subjected to even greater misery. They now face an uncertain future with anxiety and despair.”

Despite the unilateral ceasefires announced by both sides, the situation remains fragile, and there has been further violence, he warned.

The Secretary-General repeated his call for Palestinians to reconcile under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, within the framework of the legitimate Palestinian Authority. Hamas ousted Mr. Abbas’ Fatah movement from Gaza in 2007.

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