By Palestine Chronicle Staff
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on Israel to lift its “suffocating” siege on the Gaza Strip.
Speaking at a press conference, on Monday, after a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Ban stated: “The closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction effort, it is a collective punishment for which there must accountability,” MEMO reported.
Ban arrived in Israel to visit both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. He stated that: “Leaders on both sides need to urgently take concrete steps to restore hope and a political horizon so that the Israeli and Palestinian people see a pathway to peace, not a quagmire of recurring violence.”
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He added that, “A better tomorrow also means a future free from violence,” said MEMO.
Ban said that violent attacks against Israelis will not bring peace: “Such acts are precisely designed to breed fear and uncertainty. They eat away at trust and hope, drive Palestinians and Israelis farther apart, and strip away a sense of empathy for one another”.
In regard to the impact of the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian territories, Ban said: “Nearly 50 years of occupation has had a devastating impact on Palestinian lives, undermining the belief in a peaceful resolution to this conflict”.
He added, “It also has not brought security for Israelis.”
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Ban referred to the Middle East Quartet, which is expected to form a basis for an ongoing French-led peace initiative to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Middle East Quartet will comprise of the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States, as well as members of the Arab League and other nations, who have begun work earlier this month on the French initiative.
However, the initiative was met with strong opposition as Israeli leadership has voiced its opposition to it, Ma’an stated.
Newly-appointed Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman and Netanyahu issued a joint statement in support of bilateral negotiations with no Palestinian preconditions.
The “one-state solution” has gained support among Palestinians, activist groups, and intellectuals as the most reasonable way of upholding Palestinian human rights and their right to return to the lands from which they were expelled in 1948.