New York, 29 June 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stood again in solidarity with Israelis after the recent abduction of three students, and decried the use of terrorism in countries in the Middle East and around the world.
Speaking at the beginning of a meeting with President Shimon Peres of Israel at the UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Ban said that the Organization takes the kidnapping very seriously and will do whatever it can to help, in close coordination with international partners.
“Under any circumstances or any reasons this cannot be justified; it’s totally unacceptable and I’ve condemned it in the strongest possible terms,” he said.
“I’m sending again my strong solidarity, first of all, with those young people who were kidnapped and must be enduring terrible days, and their families and friends, and the people of Israel,” Mr. Ban noted, adding that he had spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the situation.
Mr. Ban had also stressed the need to avoid an escalation of tensions in the wake of the abductions.
The three teenagers were kidnapped in the West Bank near the city of Hebron on 12 June. There are reports that since then, more than 200 Palestinians have been detained in the West Bank in the context of security operations by Israel.
Mr. Ban noted that the UN is “very much troubled” by continuing terrorist attacks, which are also taking place in Iraq, Syria and many parts of Africa. He highlighted the work of the UN global counter-terrorism strategy, which the General Assembly adopted in 2006. The strategy consists of four pillars to combat terrorism, universally condemn terrorist violence and provide guidance to Member States.
“We need the whole world’s unity and solidarity to address this terrorism,” Mr. Ban said. “You can count on the United Nations.”
In the Middle East, Mr. Peres has been a “dedicated and committed leader” in the peace efforts, Mr. Ban said, and lauded him as a “constant optimist and visionary”.
“When many people in this world have been showing themselves just to fan the flames of conflict, widening the divisions instead of bridging the gap,” Mr. Ban said, “you have always remained the constant voice of calm and reason.”
“For me as a Secretary-General, you have been a strong partner of the United Nations, and you really wanted to see Israel contribute more to the work of the international community,” he noted. “That I really appreciate very much.”
While their shared vision of peace between Israelis and Palestinians is yet to materialize, Mr. Ban said he hoped that he could count on Mr. Peres’s continuing leadership.
“I know that you may be retiring soon from the Presidency, but I hope you are not retiring from the world stage,” Mr. Ban said.
The 90-year old Mr. Peres is stepping down as president next month, as his seven-year term ends.