GAZA, June 28, 2016 (WAFA) – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday arrived at Gaza city through Erez (Beit Hanoun) crossing, starting his trip to the besieged coastal enclave by delivering a speech to UN staff, said UN Secretary General’s Spokesperson.
Ban visited the UNRWA-run al-Zaytoun girls primary school where he addressed staff and students, condemning the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip that “suffocates its people, stifles its economy, and impedes reconstruction.”
Pledging to work for improving their future, Ban addressed the students stating: “As the UN was with me 60 years ago, I will always be with you and work for your better future.”
Ban underscored the importance of achieving Palestinian reconciliation and uniting Gaza and the West Bank under a single, democratic and legitimate government.
He stated: “Until Gaza and the West Bank are united under single, democratic and legitimate government, Gaza’s prospect will be ed.”
He addressed Palestinians of Gaza, stating that he stands with them and telling them that “the UN will always be with you.”
Ban pledged that the UN would “continue to work for a future without occupation for a Palestine that exists in peace and security with Israel.”
The UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl accompanied Ban on his trip to Gaza and stated that their visit “comes at a time of deep despair in Gaza”.
He referred to the lack of political horizon, Israeli restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement and extreme joblessness.
Both of them visited UN-run rehabilitation projects in Gaza, where they met with UN staff before Ban held a press conference later on in the Tel al-Hawa area, west of Gaza.
The UN chief, whose terms of office expires in December, thanked UN staff in the Gaza Strip for their “outstanding commitment to and sacrifice for the people of Gaza.”
The UN chief is scheduled to head to Ramallah for talks with President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
This came a day after Secretary-General Ban met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, where he denounced the Tel Aviv deadly shooting attack earlier this month and slammed the almost 50-year-long Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
“I must be equally clear that nearly 50 years of occupation has had a devastating impact on Palestinian lives, undermining the belief in a peaceful resolution to this conflict,” he said during a press conference with Rivlin.
He expressed his firm belief that “a negotiated two-state solution remains the only viable option to prevent perpetual conflict and to achieve the legitimate aspirations of both peoples.”
He mentioned an upcoming Middle East Quartet “balanced and fair report on the situation and obstacles to the two-state solution”.
Ban made his last visit to Gaza in 2014 following the 50-day-long Israeli offensive. He also visited the besieged coastal enclave in the end of 2008.