Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press encounter with H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority (SG's remarks only)

Ramallah, 1 February 2012

SG: Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to be in Ramallah again, at an important moment for the Palestinian people.

I am here today to demonstrate the continued commitment of the United Nations to the Palestinian people's legitimate rights and aspirations for statehood and a just and lasting peace.

I have had a very productive meeting with President Abbas and I look forward to further discussions with Prime Minister Fayyad later.

I commended President Abbas for the state-building efforts of the past several years.

This afternoon I witnessed the tangible – and very impressive -- evidence while visiting the Rawabi project.

I also met with representatives of Palestinian civil society.

Both encounters emphasized the scale and number of constraints that still lie ahead.

We need a political horizon to sustain Palestinian state-building gains and end the occupation.

A viable Palestinian state is long overdue.

I continue to believe that a two-state solution can be achieved – and that the way to achieve it is through negotiations that resolve permanent status issues such as borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem.

I am therefore encouraged that the parties have embarked on direct engagement in the Amman talks.

However, for the talks to endure, a conducive environment on the ground is essential.

It is crucial that both sides refrain from provocations and adhere to their obligations under the Roadmap to build confidence and trust.

President Abbas and I discussed ongoing tensions, including continued settlement activity and settler violence.

The UN's position is clear: all Israeli settlements are contrary to international law and prejudice final status issues.

I commend President Abbas for his leadership and commitment under difficult circumstances.

I also note with appreciation that the Palestinians have been forthcoming in presenting concrete proposals on territory and security as called for by the Quartet.

I very much hope that Israel will now present its proposals. This is the message I brought to the Israeli authorities earlier today.

The United Nations remains firmly committed to continuing our efforts to address the difficulties of the Palestinian people in their daily lives and to achieving a just and lasting peace according to the Roadmap.

Thank you. Shukran jazeelan.

I fully share and understand the concerns and frustrations of the Palestinian people who have been under occupation for such a long time and that you have been suffering from hardships and challenges without knowing, without having clear prospects when this will be over. That is why the United Nations, the General Assembly, the Security Council have on many occasions repeatedly supported the cause of the Palestinian people.

That is why I am here. This is my fourth visit to Ramallah and that is why I have been working very hard as a member of the Quartet and as the Secretary General of the United Nations, and with other international partners, to help you bring about a lasting and just peace. I know that all of you have a genuine aspiration of being able to live in a free and democratic and viable, independent and sovereign state.

I fully support the two-state vision where Palestinians and Israelis can live side by side in peace and security. That is why negotiations should work. We have almost wasted twenty years and missed twenty years since Oslo, then mostly simply three years we have not made much progress.

I was very encouraged to learn that under the auspices of the Jordanian government the two parties met directly and began several rounds of negotiations. I hope these negotiations do not lose momentum and should continue in a sustainable way. That is the best way now which you can expect to resolve all these outstanding issues so that you can live in a free and harmonious and democratic society. I will spare no efforts to work with Palestinian people and Israeli people and other partners to realize that dream. Thank you.

Q: Last September, the Palestinian authorities made a proposal to become a UN member. Now almost five months have passed but the Security Council has not gone for a vote. How do you perceive this deadlock at the Security Council? And the second one is, did you talk about it with Mr. Abbas in today's discussion?

SG: As you remember well, on September 23 last year, I received formally from President Abbas the application form for the Palestinian authority to join the United Nations, I immediately conveyed this application to the Security Council.

At that time, I made it quite clear my position, the United Nations' position, that I fully support the aspiration of the Palestinian people to become a member of the United Nations as part of maybe a framework of two-state solution as agreed between the parties. It is still in the hands of the Security Council. They are still considering this matter. It is up to the Member States now to determine the course of action how to deal with this matter.


Off-the-Cuff on 1 February 2012