Ban Ki-moon urges Israel, Palestinians to refrain from undermining peace talks

UN secretary-general meets with President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem following visit with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Ban Ki-moon and Shimon Peres 2 370 (photo credit: President's Press Office)
Ban Ki-moon and Shimon Peres 2 370
(photo credit: President's Press Office)
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged all the parties involved in the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to refrain from doing anything that would undermine the peace negotiations.
He made the request at a news conference in Jerusalem immediately following a working meeting with President Shimon Peres.
Ban had made a similar request the previous day in Ramallah following his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
This is his sixth visit to the region since taking office in 2007.
He recalled that when last in Israel in November 2012, some Israeli parents instead of sending their children to school, sent them to shelters.  Israel has legitimate security concerns and should not have to live in perpetual fear said Ban who noted that his current visit was "at a crucially important time".
He was hopeful that the peace process would advance smoothly and said that he and Peres were in agreement on direct negotiations, and that both commended the efforts of the United States, particularly those of Secretary of State John Kerr in facilitating the renewal of the peace talks.  Ban and Peres were also equally appreciative of the commitment of both Israel and the Palestinians and of the Arab initiative for regional stability.
In his discussions with Peres, Ban focused on how the UN and the international community can support progress to a two state solution that will ensure security for both the Israelis and the Palestinians and will lead to greater prosperity for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel has much to contribute regionally and internationally, said Ban, "But for that, we need peace."
He stated that UN will do everything possible to contribute towards that aim
In welcoming Ban, Peres told him that he had come at the right time and for the right purpose – namely to support the beginning of the peace negotiations.
The birth was not easy, said Peres, "but that the fact is that the talks are being conducted – not without difficulties, but with hope."
Despite the negative predictions, Peres continued, the talks are taking place and things have happened.  He cited the preliminary meeting in Washington, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the beginning of the peace talks which had started off not too badly, he said. "Had it been bad, it would have been leaked," he surmised.
All the parties should make peace a priority, Peres declared.  The decision had not been easy for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, he said, and it had not been easy for Abbas.  "Neither could provide what their people would expect – but what their people needed."
He called on the press to be supportive of the peace process, saying "To make the future hopeless is a mistake because peace is a real need for both parties."
Cautiously optimistic that the talks will bear fruit, Peres said: "It's good news in a region that needs good news."
In a reference to the turmoil in neighboring countries, Peres decried the needless bloodshed, and said that while Israel will not get involved, it would like to see an end to the bloodshed.
He also stressed the urgency of taking chemical weapons out of Syria lest they fall into the hands of terrorists.  "Chemical weapons should be taken out of the list of dangers in the Middle East," he said, "Because they are not just a ticking bomb, but weapons of mass destruction."
Peres was surprised that the President of Lebanon blamed Israel for the latest carnage there.  "Hezbollah is breaking bones in Lebanon" declared Peres, querying why Israel should be accused of an act of terrorism when Hezbollah was on the spot.
With regard to Israel's security, Peres told Ban that Israel had responded to the UN Secretary General's request to ease the situation for the people in Gaza, but that had not stopped the shooting of rockets from Gaza into Israel.
Alluding to the decision by the European Union not to fund any Israeli projects beyond the green line, Peres said that the Europeans should not put any extra load on the peace negotiations.  "Let's leave it for nine months," he suggested.