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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon .(Photo by: REUTERS)
UN chief Ban: Israeli occupation led to Gaza war
He spoke on Sunday at a donor conference in Cairo to raise funds to repair the damage from the Gaza war.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon blamed last summer’s Gaza war on Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territories, as he called on both parties to finalized an agreement for a two-state solution.

“We must not lose sight of the root causes of the recent hostilities: a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations,” Ban said.

He spoke on Sunday at a donor conference in Cairo to raise funds to repair the damage from the Gaza war. On Monday he is expected to visit Israel, where he will meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. On Tuesday he will visit Gaza.

In Cairo, he said, “I call on all parties to come together to chart a clear course towards a just and final peace -- including achieving a full lifting of the blockade, ensuring Israel’s legitimate security concerns; and establishing two States living side by side in peace and security.”

Ban added, “Going back to the status quo is not an option; this is the moment for transformational change.”

Gaza, he warned, remains a “tinder box.”

Without a peace agreement, Ban said, he feared that Gaza wars and donor conferences to repair the damage would become an annual ritual.

Holding Israel and Hamas accountable for human rights violations would help create a climate that is conducive for peace.

“This must include an investigation into potential violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict,” Ban said.

The UN is conducting a number of investigations into the Gaza war, including a high-profile one by the UN Human Rights Council that is due to be submitted in March, 2015.
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