Ban ki-Moon

Netanyahu to Ban Ki-moon: Help return our soldiers and citizens

PM urges Ban Ki-moon to use his position as UN Secretary General to force Hamas to return bodies of missing soldiers; Ban ki-Moon says blockade amounts to 'collective punishment'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Jerusalem on Tuesday, where he thanked the secretary general for meeting with the families of the Israelis being held in captivity by Hamas.



He told the secretary general "I want to thank you Mr. Secretary for agreeing to meet with the Goldin, Shaul and Mangisto families."


"Hamas is cruelly and illegally holding the remains of our soldiers and holding our citizens. I ask you to use your standing to help return home these soldiers and these citizens. It's a humanitarian position and elementary humanitarian requirement that Hamas and its criminal activities is of course throwing into the winds," he said.


Netanyahu continued, reiterating that "Hamas is a terrorist organization. Hamas has genocidal aims. It doesn't merely practice terrorism. It says openly that its goal is to wipe away from the face of the earth a member state of the United Nations."


"I hope the UN will highlight Hamas's crimes and understand that our security measures are aimed only at keeping our citizens safe from this threat and we use judicious force in this regards," the prime minister added. "I don’t know what any other country, faced with thousands of rockets and missiles aimed at our citizens, at our children, would do differently. Many have done it differently and they have not used the restraint and the responsibility that Israel uses.


Netanyahu also spoke about UN bodies paying undue attention to the Jewish state, saying "I remember well when you came in Israel in 2013 you said that Israel and the Israeli people face some bias. That's an understatement. But you also said that Israel must be treated equally at the UN. I appreciate your candor and this clear moral stance. It was exemplified in your efforts to secure the final Palmer report which was very important for Israel, and Mr. Secretary, I appreciate your personal efforts in that particular instance."


Prime Minister Netanyahu with UN Secretary General BAn Ki-moon (Photo: Yonantan Zindel) (Photo: Yonatan Zindel/Flash90 )
Prime Minister Netanyahu with UN Secretary General BAn Ki-moon (Photo: Yonantan Zindel)


"Regrettably," the prime minister continued, "the goal of treating Israel fairly remains unfulfilled across a wide spectrum of UN activities and UN forums. Your visit here comes as the UN Human Rights Council is meeting. As it always does, the Council will condemn Israel, a country that does more to promote and protect human rights and liberal values than any other in the blood soaked Middle East."


"Our progressive democracy has faced more country-specific resolutions, more country-specific condemnations at the UN Human Rights Council than all the other countries combined. And I believe this is a profound betrayal of the United Nations noble mandate. Israel still faces bias at the UN. I know that your desire for all countries to be treated fairly and equally remains true today. I urge you to dedicate your last six months as the Secretary General of the United Nations in trying to right this wrong. And when I say that, it's not just for Israel's sake. It's for the credibility of the UN."


UN chief Ban Ki-moon described on Tuesday Israel's Gaza blockade as "collective punishment" which he said was fuelling the flames of violence: "This situation cannot continue. It fuels anger and despair and it increases the danger of an escalation of hostilities," he said during his fourth and final visit to Gaza as UN Secretary-General.


Ban's criticism came a day after Israel's announcement that it intended to maintain the embargo despite a normalization agreement with Turkey. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the blockade as a "security interest of high importance" to Israel, adding that Israel was "not prepared to renegotiate."


"The closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts," said Ban, about the coastal strip which has enagaged in three wars with Israel since 2008.


UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon and PresidentReuven Rivlin (Photo: Reuters)
UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon and PresidentReuven Rivlin (Photo: Reuters)


"It's a collective punishment for which there must be accountability," he continued as he spoke in one of the dozens of UN schools supporting Palestinian refugees which constitute more than three-quarters of the population of the Gaza strip.


"Today, 70% of Gazans are in need of humanitarian assistance. Half of young Gazans have no, or little, job prospects on the horizon," he lamented.


According to the World Bank and the UN, Israel's blockade has had ruinous effects on Gaza's economy. The world body also condemns the restriction of movement of the vast majority of the 1.9 million Palestinians residing in Gaza.


Photo: Avi Roccah
Photo: Avi Roccah


For Israel however, the blockade remains an essential mechanism in preventing the entry of materials used by Hamas and other terror groups to produce weapons stockpiles which are invariably used to wreak havoc on Israel's citizens.


Ankara, which broke off diplomatic relations with Israel following a skirmish between the IDF and a group of 'peace activists' on ont the Mavi Marmara flotilla which set sail from Turkey in an effort to break the blockade of Gaza, had orginally made normalization conditional upon lifting the siege. However, it has since retracted its demand, insisting that Israel caters for the entry of humanitarian goods - a process which has long been an operative norm for Israel.

The agreement between Israel and Turkey finally include the construction with Turkish capital of a power plant, a desalination plant and a hospital in Gaza.


During the Secretary-General's visit to one of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) sites, a map depicting Palestine in the pre-1948 borders with no reference to Israel was covered up with fabric in order to avoid a diplomatic incident.


During his meeting with Ban on Tuesday, Netanyahu said: “Hamas, in their cruel ways, are holding the remains of our soldiers and civilians. I ask you to use your position to ensure that they are brought home. This is a basic humanitarian requirement. Hamas is an terror organization with an aim of murdering an entire nation. It says openly that its aim is to wipe Israel off the map.”


פרסום ראשון: 06.28.16, 13:50
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