Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel — the fourth stop on his Middle East journey — in the early afternoon of Tuesday, 22 July, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was greeted by Ya’akov Peri, Minister of Science and Technology. From the airport, the Secretary-General travelled by road directly to Tel Aviv to meet at the Ministry of Defense with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
At a brief press encounter the Foreign Minister, the Secretary-General spoke of the three-fold message of his mission – to stop the violence immediately, return to dialogue and address the root causes of the crisis.
He then held a press encounter followed by a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The meeting took place in Tel Aviv at the headquarters of the Israeli army. Prior to speaking to the press, the Prime Minister showed the Secretary-General some of the rockets that landed in Israel after having been launched from Gaza. While sharing Israel’s “legitimate security concern and right to defend country and citizens”, he noted that “military actions will not increase Israel’s stability and security in the longer term.” His message to Israelis and Palestinians is the same, he said: Stop fighting; start talking; and take on the root causes of the conflict.
He then travelled to Ramallah by car, from where he briefed the Security Council in New York by video link. He told Council members that he strongly condemned the indiscriminate rocket fire launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza into Israel. He also spoke of his alarm at Israel’s heavy response and the corresponding high civilian death toll. He urged all parties to rally behind a collective international effort to end the fighting. “There is no time to lose,” he said. (See Press Release SG/SM/16044.)
He then met with Rami Hamdallah, Prime Minister of the State of Palestine. They held a joint press encounter, at which he said it was “time to end the unrelenting suffering for the Palestinian people”.
That evening, he attended an Iftar dinner with the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers at the Muqata Presidential Palace. Prior to leaving Ramallah, the Secretary-General met with a group of Palestinian civil society leaders, including Hanan Ashrawi, Mustafa Barghouti and Saeb Erakat.
Later on Tuesday evening, in Jerusalem, Mr. Ban spoke by phone with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey, as well as with United States Secretary of State John Kerry.
On Wednesday, 23 July, the Secretary-General held a breakfast meeting with Shimon Peres, President of Israel. At a press encounter with the President, he noted “the great fear in Israel”, with rockets threatening Israeli civilians, and also “the deep pain, anguish and loss among Palestinians”. With more than 600 dead in Gaza, he said that “the violence must stop”.
That morning he also met with Avigdor Liberman, the Foreign Minister of Israel; Tzipi Livni, the Minister of Justice of Israel; and with John Kerry, United States Secretary of State. In brief remarks to the press after that meeting, Mr. Ban told the media that he and Secretary Kerry had “joined forces and strength to make a ceasefire as soon as possible.”
Before leaving Jerusalem, he also spoke by phone with Khalid Bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah, Foreign Minister of Qatar; Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel; and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine.
The Secretary-General departed for Jordan in the mid-afternoon of Wednesday, 23 July.