UN Chief ‘Not Optimistic’ After Middle East Visit

October 21, 2015  

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council on Wednesday that he was “not optimistic” following talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to urge them to defuse tensions, a diplomat said, according to AFP.

Ban addressed a closed-door emergency session of the council by video-conference from Amman, the latest stop on his mission to de-escalate the violence.

The UN chief traveled to the region on Tuesday to urge the Israelis and Palestinians to pull back from a “dangerous escalation” that could lead to a full-scale Palestinian uprising.

After meeting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Ban delivered a sobering assessment of the prospects, according to a diplomat at the meeting.

Ban told the council that addressing the situation at the holy sites was key to quelling tensions and that he was very concerned by incitement from both sides.

Stating bluntly that he had emerged from his meetings “not optimistic,” he said there was no time to waste to press for a de-escalation and pull the sides back from the brink, AFP reported.

Ban’s report from the region comes on the eve of a ministerial-level debate at the Security Council on the way forward in the Middle East amid fears that the violence could spiral out of control.

In his meeting Tuesday with Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister told the UN chief that Abbas was “fanning the flames,” citing recent comments by Abbas in which he said he “welcomes every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem.”

Rejecting accusations by some that Israel was using “excessive force” in stopping terrorist attackers, and in dealing with violent riots, Netanyahu insisted: “In the face of this terrorism Israel is acting as any democracy would to defend its citizens. We are not… using excessive force.”

Ban also met with opposition leader MK Yitzhak Herzog, who told the UN chief that the world cannot be silent in the face of the terrorist attacks against Israelis.

“Silence or moderate reactions of the world could be interpreted as support for terror. It should be made clear to the Palestinians that the road of terrorism leads to a dangerous deadlock,” said Herzog.

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