NEW YORK - “Enough is enough,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a video message to Israeli and Palestinian people recorded from Bratislava in Slovakia, where he traveled this week to open an exhibition for the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.
“I am dismayed, as we all should be, when I see young people, children, picking up weapons and seeking to kill,” he said.
In the video, Ban first addressed Palestinian youth. “I understand your frustration. I know your hopes for peace have been dashed countless times,” he said.
“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 occupation.”
“I am not asking you to be passive, but you must put down the weapons of despair,” he added.
The secretary-general also wished to speak to Palestinian leaders and asked them to “harness the energy of [their] people in a peaceful way to make their dreams and aspirations a reality.”
Ban added that this can only happen by “establishing a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel, not through the violent acts we have been witnessing.”
The secretary-general then spoke to Israelis and said he appreciates their “genuine concern about peace and security” and understands their anger.
“When children are afraid to go to school, when anyone on the street is a potential victim, security is rightly your immediate priority,” he said. “But walls, checkpoints, harsh responses by the security forces and house demolitions cannot sustain the peace and safety that you need and must have.”
According to Ban, “there is no so-called 'security' solution” but there is a need for a political horizon to “break this cycle of violence and fear.”
He asked both sides not to allow extremists to use religion to further fuel the conflict and to “stand firm against terror, violence and incitement.”
“Non-violence requires more courage and strength than violence,” Ban added. “Let us stop mortgaging the future of both peoples and the region.”
Last Friday, the UN Security Council had convened an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in the Middle East.
At the meeting, Palestinian representative Riyad Mansour asked the international body to “intervene to end this aggression against defenseless palestinian people”, citing Israeli settlers’ “provocations” on Temple Mount.
On the Israeli side, ambassador Danny Danon made clear that Israel will not agree to any international presence on Temple Mount.
Earlier on Friday, Ban had also condemned the arson attack by Palestinian protesters on Joseph's Tomb in Nablus in the West Bank. He called it a “reprehensible act” and said he is looking forward to a "thorough investigation to quickly bring the perpetrators to justice."