Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON AT UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS
Following is a transcript of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s press conference held in New York today, 6 June:
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Apart from my meetings with President [Giorgio] Napolitano, Prime Minister [Silvio] Berlusconi and others, I also met with the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who briefed me on his thoughts and plans for Palestinian reconciliation and Palestinian statehood. For my part, I emphasized the imperative that both sides, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, return to the negotiating table.
Regarding the weekend's shootings along the Golan Heights: let me emphasize – the parties concerned share responsibility for preventing needless civilian deaths.
Q: Thank you Mr. Secretary-General. The Panel you established on Mavi Marmara has not made any decision yet and there are new flotillas underway to break the siege of Gaza. The Palestinians are looking for an independent state. Perhaps in September, they will come to the General Assembly. What's your position on all these?
SG: This panel is still discussing the incident which happened during the time of the flotilla last year. They will bring me their recommendations and their findings some time in July. We will have to set exact date – they are still working very, very hard. About the possible flotillas, it is true that I have written letters to the leaders of some Mediterranean States [from] where the flotillas may sail. I do not have any information on any possible flotilla, but I believe that, at this time, it is very important to avoid any unnecessary confrontation. We have seen such tragic deaths of 9 people during the flotilla incident last year. There are some land routes, possible land routes – there are some other areas. So wherever it is possible, when there are some other routes, then I would hope that these allowed routes should be used. That is my sincere hope, as a hope to avoid any potential confrontation.
Q: And on Palestinian statehood?
SG: I have discussed at length with President Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority, and this is up to the Member States again to decide. But at this time, what is very important is that I emphasized the imperative of both the Palestinians and the Israelis to enter into negotiation, genuine and meaningful negotiation, so that they can discuss and realize this two-State vision where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace and security. That is the vision which is supported by the international community, supported by the Quartet principals. Therefore, I urged him to engage in serious dialogue – that is what I have been urging to the Israeli leadership, President [Shimon] Peres and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu many times.
Q: On the incident yesterday in the Golan Heights. There are many options open to a Government to control crowds, amongst them, water cannon, rubber bullets, or even trying to, with riot police, arrest people. Do you believe that it was the correct decision to use live ammunition? They have other options. And a follow-up to Iftikhar's Israel question: Now that you are going to get a second term, do you expect to use that opportunity to more universally apply human rights to P5 countries? Human Rights Watch and others have criticized you for not criticizing P5 countries because you wanted a second term. Now that you are assured of one, will you be more outspoken against them?
SG: First of all, I would like to make it quite clear that, when it comes to universal human rights, there is no distinction or difference. I will make the same priority issue on that.
On your first question, it is quite troubling that we had seen so many casualties yesterday. I have followed, with deep concern, the events in the area of separation on the occupied Syrian Golan, including all the reports of efforts to cross the Israeli technical fence and the unconfirmed number of civilian casualties from live IDF [Israeli Defence Force] fire. UNDOF [UN Disengagement Observer Force] is seeking to confirm facts and help calm the continuing volatile situation in the area. First of all, I regret the loss of life and I extend my sincere condolences to those victims and families and the people of the countries concerned. The events of yesterday on the Golan put a long-held ceasefire in jeopardy. I called for maximum restraint on all sides and strict observance of international humanitarian routine to ensure protection of civilians.
Thank you very much for your support and your attention.
* *** *
For information media • not an official record