UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon met on Sunday in the central West Bank city of Ramallah with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. He expressed his shock over the harsh living conditions the Palestinians are facing as a result of the occupation, Wall, settlements and checkpoints, and said that peace talks on final status solutions should be launched.Before his meeting with Abbas, Ki-Moon visited Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, observed the harsh living conditions of the refugees, and managed to take a close look at the Israeli Annexation Wall from a rooftop of a local school in the camp.
He stated that this wall divides the people, places them in isolated cantons and does not serve, in any way, the peace process in the Middle East.
This is his first visit to the region since he became the UN Secretary-general. Ki-Moon stated that he intends to ask the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, to start final-status talks with the Palestinians.
In a press conference with Abbas, Ki-Moon welcomed the formation of a Palestinian unity government that supports Abbas, and expressed hopes that the new government will abide by the principles of the Quartet.
He added that he will meet the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyya from the Hamas party, when the political atmosphere is positive, and said that he supports Abbas and his efforts to create a comprehensive peace in the region.
Meanwhile, Abbas said that the International Community should look positively at the new unity government and its political agenda since it respects the international legitimacy, and abides by the decisions of the international body and the Arab World.
Abbas added that he is committed to a comprehensive truce with Israel and that talks are still ongoing to secure the release of the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. He also reminded the world the Israel is still holding 10,000 Palestinian detainees in its prisoners.
Abbas demanded that the Security Council rescue the Palestinian refugees in Iraq since they are subjected to systematic attacks, and called on Ki-Moon to act in order to lift the suffering of the Palestinian people living under siege and occupation.
In a meeting with the Israeli Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, Ki-Moon slammed the Israeli policy of closures and checkpoints in the occupied territories, and said that there are at least 550 Israeli roadblocks in the occupied west Bank.
“This number of roadblocks is much more than the roadblocks Israel installed when it carried out the operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank in 2002”, Ki-Moon added.
Ki-Moon, the former South Korean Foreign Minister, stated that he does not see any balance between the Israeli security needs and the human needs of the Palestinian people. He said that the Israeli policies are harming the peace process and president Abbas.
Ki-Moon also slammed the humiliation practiced by the Israeli soldiers against UN personnel operating on the Gaza Strip crossings, and the bad treatment they face at Israeli roadblocks.