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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's remarks to the press with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar

Doha, Qatar, 20 July 2014

Assalam Alaikum.  Good evening. 

Your Excellency Khalid Bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar,

Thank you for your warm welcome  and hospitality.  Thank you for your time to meet me at this late hour.  I appreciate His Highness the Amir for his hospitality.

It is always a pleasure for me to visit the State of Qatar, but this time I come to the Middle East with a very heavy heart. 

The people of the region are living through tense and trying times. 

Too many innocent civilians are dying. 

Too many women and children are the victims of appalling attacks.

Too many people are living in constant fear of the next missile, the next air strike, the next rocket attack.

I know that while I was en route to Doha, dozens more civilians, including children, have been killed in Israeli military strikes in the Shejaiyah neighborhood in Gaza.

I condemn this atrocious action.  Israel must exercise maximum restraint and do far more to protect civilians.

I repeat my demand to all sides that they must respect international humanitarian law.

The violence must stop now.

I am here on a journey of solidarity and peace.

Qatar and its leadership are vital to regional efforts to resolve the crisis.

That conviction was reinforced in the extremely productive meeting which I just had with

His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar.

I want to thank His Highness the Amir -- and Minister Al-Attiyah -- for all they are doing to end the fighting. 

Gaza is an open wound. 

We must stop the bleeding now.

As I travel the region, I will continue to press for an [immediate] ceasefire – an immediate end to the Israeli military operation in Gaza and the rocket fire by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.   

And beyond a ceasefire, we know that it is folly to simply try to return to the way things were. 

Going back to the status quo ante in Gaza and the continuing siege of Gaza is not sustainable.

There is only one way to avoid the cycle of war and perpetual insecurity for all – and that is by addressing the root causes of the conflict.

That means a return to the negotiating table and talks for a two-state solution.

Israelis, but also Palestinians, need to feel a sense of security.

Palestinians, but also Israelis, need to see a horizon of hope. 

And all sides need to be assured that international humanitarian law counts -- and that there will be accountability and justice for crimes committed by any party.

I look forward to meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later this evening to continue our discussions and find the way to peace. 

I am going to visit the countries in the region including Egypt, Ramallah and Israel and some other countries wherever I need to be.

Thank you.