United Nations News Service

In South Lebanon, Ban Ki-moon stresses need for eventual permanent ceasefire

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today visited South Lebanon, where he voiced hope that a cessation of hostilities in place since the end of last year’s 34-day war between Israel and Hizbollah could be transformed into a permanent ceasefire. Responding to questions at a press conference in Naqoura, Mr. Ban said both Israel and Lebanon showed interested in this goal. “It is important that the current cessation of hostilities could be transferred and developed into a permanent ceasefire. I know that Lebanese Government is very much interested. 

Arriving in Lebanon, Ban Ki-moon says dialogue is key to national unity

Continuing a diplomatic tour of the Middle East, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Beirut today, where he said dialogue and compromise are key to Lebanon’s national unity. Mr. Ban, who has so far visited Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, said the trip has been instructive. “I have listened attentively and I have learned a great deal about the region and the challenges it is facing. I realize these challenges are particularly serious in Lebanon, where I trust a return to dialogue and reconciliation will prevail,” he said. 

Human Rights Council calls for fact-finding missions to probe alleged Israeli abuses

The United Nations Human Rights Council today adopted a resolution without a vote which called for two urgent fact-finding missions to be dispatched to the occupied Palestinian territory, voicing concern that previous attempts to investigate potential human rights abuses had been hindered by Israel. The Council noted with regret that Israel had not cooperated with two previous resolutions which dispatched the missions. 

UN meeting on Middle East peace urges support for new Palestinian Government

The international community has an obligation to support the new Palestinian National Unity Government without preconditions and to lift the aid restrictions imposed on it, according to participants in a United Nations meeting on Israeli-Palestinian peace. The UN International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, held at the Rome headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on 22-23 March, welcomed the formation of the Government and voiced the hope that the development would allow the international community to restore much-needed economic and humanitarian aid and help to move the peace process forward. 

Israel, Palestinians must both take steps on path to peace, Ban Ki-moon says

It is crucial that both Israel and the Palestinians take steps to reduce tensions in the Middle East in order to advance the peace process, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in Jerusalem today after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. “The long-term safety and security of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian State go hand in hand,” he added, a day after holding talks with Mahmoud Abbas, noting stressed the need to give some “political space” to the new Palestinian government formed by Hamas and Fatah. “We must use the weeks and months ahead to advance the political dialogue, since the alternative is renewed stagnation, which only means more extremism and violence,” he said. 

Parallel progress needed in Middle East, Ban Ki-moon tells UN meeting

With a majority of both Israelis and Palestinians supporting a negotiated settlement to the Middle East conflict that would allow two States to live side by side in peace and security, it is vital that their leaders take concrete steps to achieve that goal, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a United Nations-sponsored meeting on the issue today. “It is clear that a parallel commitment by the parties is essential for advancing on key issues,” Mr. Ban said in a message at the start of the UN International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, held at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, urging participants to play their part. 

Diplomatic Quartet urges Palestinian Unity Government to commit to key principles

Stressing the need for the new Palestinian National Unity Government to commit to non-violence, the recognition of Israel and the acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, the Middle East Quartet - the diplomatic grouping that includes the United Nations - indicated that the Government’s commitment will be judged on its actions as much as its composition and platform. In a statement released today, the members of the Quartet also endorsed the extension of a stop-gap measure for providing aid to the Palestinian people and voiced support for United States-led efforts to find a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Ban Ki-moon confers with key Middle East peace brokers on Palestinian unity cabinet

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a conference call today with his key international partners in efforts to broker a Middle East peace to discuss a joint approach to the new Palestinian unity government between the Fatah and Hamas movements. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, current president of the European Union (EU), High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner took part in the consultations of the Quartet, which come ahead of Mr. Ban’s own visit to the region. 

Palestinian refugee killed in Iraq raid

In the latest of a long series of expressions of alarm over the fate of Palestinian refugees in Iraq after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, the United Nations refugee agency today voiced deep concern over a raid by Iraqi security forces this week in Baghdad, which left at least one Palestinian dead and nine others reportedly still in detention. “The violence reportedly broke out when the Palestinians tried to resist the raid,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva. 

UN Secretary-General welcomes news of Palestinian unity government

Welcoming reports that negotiations for a Palestinian national unity government have been completed, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he hoped the new administration would respect existing agreements and reflect widely held principles on the conflict in the Middle East. United Nations spokesperson Michele Montas told journalists at the daily briefing, in response to questions on the intra-Palestinian talks, that Mr. Ban is now looking forward to the formation of both the Government and its programme. She said he hoped that the Palestinian Government would respect all existing agreements and reflect principles outlined by the diplomatic Quartet.