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Secretary-General, Israeli President discuss Gaza inquiry report

6 May 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Israeli President Shimon Peres discussed the report of the United Nations Board of Inquiry into incidents affecting the world body’s personnel, premises and operations during the recent conflict in Gaza at a meeting today in New York.

Yesterday Mr. Ban transmitted a summary of the report prepared by the four-member Board to the Security Council, and is currently reviewing its recommendations.

UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters that the Secretary-General and Mr. Peres also discussed Ghajar, a town that straddles across the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon, as well as the anti-racism Durban Review Conference held last month in Geneva.

In a related development, Mr. Ban today called for Israel and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, as he pledged his sustained commitment to helping achieve a negotiated political settlement of their long-running conflict.

“Israeli-Palestinian negotiations must be resumed on all core issues without exception,” he said in a message to the UN International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, held in Nicosia under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

In the message, delivered by Special Representative in Cyprus Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Mr. Ban stated that the parameters for peace remain unchanged: the establishment of two States living side by side in peace and security on the basis of the principle of land for peace and a just and comprehensive regional peace consistent with Security Council resolutions.

The Secretary-General said he was “very disturbed” by the situation in Gaza, more than three months since the end of hostilities there. “Measures that increase hardship and suffering are unacceptable and must stop immediately,” he stressed.

He called on Israel to provide adequate entry of fuel, cash and materials that were urgently needed to repair schools, clinics, sanitation networks and shelters.

Much needs to be done to stabilize Gaza, he added, including a durable and fully respected cease fire, including open crossings; the prevention of illicit supply of weapons; and reunification of Gaza and the West Bank within the framework of the legitimate Palestinian authority.

Voicing strong support for the continued efforts of Egypt to promote Palestinian reconciliation through dialogue, Mr. Ban urged participants in this process to redouble their efforts to overcome their differences.

On the West Bank, he warned that the persistence of Israeli settlement activities would make it virtually impossible for peace talks to produce tangible results.

Noting that the meeting was taking place as the international community strives to reinvigorate the political process towards Israeli-Palestinian peace, he expressed his strong support for a reinforced role for the Middle East Quartet – composed of the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States.

He also commended President Barack Obama’s stated commitment to strengthening and deepening partnerships between the US, the parties and international partners to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and between Israel and the Arab States.

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