Ban Ki-moon making surprise Israel trip to calm tensions

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks at a ceremony for the 70th anniversary of the United Nations in San Francisco, Friday, June 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will arrive in Israel Tuesday for a surprise visit in an attempt to address ongoing violence that has rocked the country for over a month.

During the visit Ban will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon will also fly to Israel Tuesday in order to accompany the Secretary General during his meeting with the Netanyahu.

Danon called on Ban to speak out against Palestinian leaders for encouraging violence.

“I expect the Secretary General to come out with a clear call against the incitement to violence of the Palestinian Authority,” Danon said before taking off for the flight to Israel.

Danon will return to New York immediately after the meeting for a UN Security Council session on the situation scheduled for Thursday morning.

Hours before his visit Ban released a video addressing Israelis and Palestinians about what he called “the dangerous escalation in violence across the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel and especially in Jerusalem.”

“I am dismayed – as we all should be – when I see young people, children, picking up weapons and seeking to kill. Violence will only undermine the legitimate Palestinian aspirations for statehood and the longing of Israelis for security.” he said.

Directing his comments to Palestinian youth, the Secretary General said he understood the frustrations felt by the younger generation.

“I know your hopes for peace have been dashed countless times. You are angry at the continued occupation and expansion of settlements. Many of you are disappointed in your leaders and in us, the international community, because of our inability to end this conflict.”

He called on the Palestinian leadership to “harness the energy of your people in a peaceful way to make their dreams and aspirations a reality.”

Ban also addressed Israeli security concerns.

“When children are afraid to go to school, when anyone on the street is a potential victim, security is rightly your immediate priority. But walls, checkpoints, harsh responses by the security forces and house demolitions cannot sustain the peace and safety that you need and must have,” he said.

Last week Ban Ki-moon urged Israel to carry out a “serious review” on whether its security forces are resorting to excessive force in clashes with Palestinians.

Ban finds “the apparent excessive use of force by Israeli security forces” to be “troubling,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at a press conference.

This “demands serious review as it only serves to exacerbates the situation leading to a vicious cycle of needless bloodshed,” he said.



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