Ban Ki-moon welcomes Israel-Hamas truce deal, commends Morsi

Thursday, November 22, 2012
Ban Ki-moon briefing Security Council members in New York
via video link from Egypt
[PHOTO: UNifeed]
New York: United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the announcement of a Gaza ceasefire and commended Palestinian and Israeli leaders for "stepping back from the brink".

Following a truce deal between Israel and Palestinians Ban Ki-moon briefed the members of the Security Council in New York, via video link from Egypt.

The Secretary-General commended Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi for his "exceptional leadership", and stressed that the focus now "must be on ensuring the ceasefire holds and that all those in need in Gaza – and there are many - receive the humanitarian assistance they need".

While noting the relief for the people of Gaza and Israel, and for the international community that the violence was stopping, Ban also warned that there were many details that needed to be solidified "for a broad durable ceasefire to take firm hold of the longer term".

He stressed that that it was imperative for both sides to stick to the ceasefire in order for  "underlying issues to be addressed in a sustainable fashion".

Ban pointed out his consistent condemnation of indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, but at the same time said he believed "the excessive and disproportionate use of force that endangers civilian lives is intolerable".

He said "put simply all parties must respect international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of all civilians at all times".

The Secretary-General told council members that once the calm was fully restored, a broader ceasefire would need to address "all the underlying causes of conflict, including a full opening of the crossings; Palestinian reconciliation, and an end to weapons smuggling. It is clear the international community must speak with one voice to prevent a return to violence".

Earlier, Ban travelled to Cairo where he met with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to express his support for the Egyptian President 's efforts to mediate a truce to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Before that Ban was in Ramallah in the West Bank, where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. At a joint press conference there, Ban assured the UN's commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, including through the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

The Secretary-General also met other leaders in the region over the last days, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Mohamed Qandil and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil Elaraby. - UNifeed
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