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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's remarks at press encounter with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [unofficial transcript]

New York, 21 November 2012

SG: Thank you, Mr. President, for your hospitality welcoming me to Ramallah again.

It is a great pleasure for me to visit Ramallah [for a] second time this year – [it’s been] nine months since I visited here last time.  But I am visiting Ramallah with a much heavier mind because of the situation happening in Gaza and because of the human suffering and losses suffered by the Palestinian people and the Israeli people -- both sides.

Ladies and gentlemen,

President Abbas and I just concluded a very constructive discussion as usual. Before that I met Prime Minister Fayyad. We also discussed the same subject which President Abbas has just introduced therefore I will not go into the detail of what we have discussed. I very much appreciate such dialogue.

President Abbas has been a long advocate for the Palestinian people. I reiterated to him my endorsement of the two-state solution to address Palestinian aspirations. These aspirations are genuine and these aspirations must be realized as soon as possible. I appreciate President Abbas’s continued push for a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Today the situation in Gaza is deeply alarming. The whole world is extremely and gravely concerned about what is happening there. I share President Abbas’s distress about bloodshed when negotiations are the best path forward. 

Rockets aimed at military targets inside Gaza are killing and injuring civilians and damaging vital civilian infrastructure.  In my meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, I expressed my profound concern.

Palestinians everywhere are distressed about what is happening in Gaza. Like you, my paramount immediate concern is for the safety and wellbeing of all civilians.

I appeal to all those commanding, bearing and operating weapons to respect international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians at all times. This message has been repeatedly conveyed on many occasions since the beginning of this crisis and I am repeating it again.

I reiterate my call for an immediate cessation of indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian militants targeting Israel’s populated centres. This is unacceptable. Now is the time for diplomacy and stopping the violence. 

I was here under similar circumstances in early 2009.  It is almost four years ago. It is quite painful for me as Secretary-General and also personally as a human being to be back for the same reason. Bloodshed will not open the door to negotiations that could achieve the two-state solution that is necessary to end such violence permanently.

I believe that it is time for a Palestinian state to emerge, that meets the aspirations of the Palestinian people and that will exist side by side with Israel in peace and security. I look forward to supporting negotiations that are the best means to achieve that result. That’s exactly why I am here.

I have received this morning from President Abbas a letter of appeal on humanitarians from women associations [inaudible]. Urgent humanitarian assistance will be the top priority of the United Nations system. Commissioner General of UNRWA Mr. Grandi is here, and also UNSCO Special Coordinator Mr. Serry is also here. Wel also have senior advisors. I also had a good meeting with the UN Country Team before coming here. I will spare no efforts [so that] such urgent humanitarian assistance will be delivered to people. Our Resident Coordinator also, Mr. Rawley, is here.

I have spoken with UNRWA representative in Gaza and I assure my commitment that we will do all that we can to provide humanitarian assistance.

Let me conclude by stressing that I will spare no effort to help put an end to the violence.

I met the Secretary of State of the United States this morning in Jerusalem before I came here. I also spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel again this morning before coming here. I emphasized again the importance of ceasefire by both sides immediately

I am going to Cairo right after this meeting to meet President Morsi to discuss more in details and urge him to demonstrate his leadership to facilitate an immediate cessation of violence at this time.

Mr. President,, your leadership in helping end the violence and finding a path back to negotiations is crucial. I count on your leadership. Thank you very much for this welcome and thank you for your leadership.

Q: [in Arabic]

SG: Thank you for your question. I have already explained my firm determined will to protect people in Gaza and Palestinian people everywhere.  Unfortunately, many Palestinian people have lost their lives and been injured and I express my sincere condolences and sympathy at this time again for those families of victims killed and injured. The United Nations system will mobilize all necessary humanitarian assistance to those people in need. At the same time, what is important at this time is to have sustainable political negotiations and dialogue. I have urged President Abbas to continue and accelerate this peace process. The United Nations, and myself as a member of the Quartet, will closely coordinate with international partners to help create a politically conducive atmosphere so that this political dynamics will return to the right path. I am also going to visit Jordan today, and I will have a meeting with the King Abdullah. . Jordan has also been very actively helping the Palestinians and the Israelis so they could return to dialogue. My commitment will continue. Thank you very much.


Off-the-Cuff on 21 November 2012