(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Following are the statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amd UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon today prior to their meeting (Tuesday, 20 November
PM Netanyahu: Mr. Secretary, welcome to Jerusalem. You're
always a welcome guest, and I appreciate both your coming here and your
statement. I want to thank you for making it clear that Israel has the right to
defend itself. I want to thank you for your consistent statements condemning the
rocket attacks on Israel's citizens.
I know you're very concerned about the civilian casualties on both sides.
Well, we share your concern, and that is why, in fighting terror, our military
always tries to avoid civilian casualties. In fact, I'm not sure that there
is another military on earth that goes to such
great lengths to keep innocents out of harm's way.
Israel is, I think, remarkable in that, when you consider the conditions that
we're facing, I think that something almost without parallel in history is
taking place. We're conducting these surgical
operations against terrorists at a time when our
own population is being bombarded by rocket attacks.
Unfortunately, Mr. Secretary, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, and the other
terrorist groups, do not share your concern about our civilian casualties or
about civilian casualties at all. They're deliberately and indiscriminately
targeting our civilians and they deliberately
hide behind their civilians. The terrorists target our children and they use
their own children as human shields. They place explosives, weapons, other
destructive weapons of any kind in schools, mosques, hospitals, universities.
Targeting civilians and hiding behind civilians, as you well know is a double
war crime. If we hope to make these tactics illegitimate, they should be
condemned in the most forceful terms by all responsible members of the
international community. The moment we draw symmetry between the victims of
terror and the unintended casualties that result from legitimate military action
against the terrorists, the minute that false symmetry is drawn, the terrorists
I know, Mr. Secretary, that you understand this, and I am confident, as
always, that you will continue to lend your moral authority to the struggle
against terrorism. Mr. Secretary, no country would tolerate rocket attacks
against its cities and against its civilians. Israel cannot tolerate such
attacks. If a long-term solution can be put in place through diplomatic means,
than Israel would be a willing partner to such a solution. But if stronger
military action proves necessary to stop the constant barrage of rockets, Israel
will not hesitate to do what is necessary to defend our people.
I look forward to our discussions today, and I hope we can advance a peaceful
Secretary Ban: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. Shalom,
ladies and gentlemen. Todah.
Again, I'd like to thank the Prime Minister for welcoming me to Israel at
this time. Regrettably, I'm back again in the region only nine months since my
last visit because of violence in Israel and Gaza, this again requiring our
attention, not progressing towards a lasting peace and a two-state solution. But
all this we are truly concerned at the rising loss of human lives. A further
escalation would be dangerous and tragic for Palestinians and Israelis, and
would put the entire region at risk. I'm here to appeal to all to hold fire and
Rockets have hit areas just outside of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, as well as
Israeli towns near Gaza, killing and injuring civilians. I myself visited Sderot
and these cities, and met many people, and I was able to witness myself how
these people were living in fear and terror. This is unacceptable, irresponsible
and reckless. I strongly condemn these actions. Rocket attacks by Palestinian
militants targeting Israel must cease immediately.
I know how desperate the situation is here, but Israel must exercise maximum
restraint. I strongly caution against a ground operation which will only result
in further tragedy. I have also stressed that while Israeli rockets may be aimed
at military targets inside Gaza, they kill and injure civilians and damage
civilian infrastructures. The loss of civilian lives is unacceptable under any
circumstances. The excessive use of force is unlawful and must be rejected, and
I take note of your statement that this military operation was aimed against
only military facilities, but still in the course of military operations, the
civilians are actually victimized, as we have seen.
My paramount immediate concern is for the safety and well-being of all
civilians, in Israel and in Gaza. Innocent people, including children, are being
killed and injured on both sides. I appeal to all and those commanding, bearing
and operating arms, weapons, to respect international humanitarian law to ensure
the protection of civilians at all times. I was here under similar circumstances
in early 2009. It is truly painful for me to be back for the same reason.
This new cycle of bloodshed will make neither Israelis nor Palestinians more
secure, nor will bloodshed open the door to negotiations that could achieve a
two-state solution necessary to end such violence permanently. Further
escalation benefits no one. I and all my staff, including Special Coordinator
Robert Serry, will spare no effort to put an end to violence and provide
humanitarian assistance to those who need it.
Over the past week, Mr. Prime Minister, I have spoken with many international
leaders and regional leaders by telephone and in person. I have come here
directly from Cairo, where I met with Arab League Secretary General Nabil
al-Araby and Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Mohamed Qandil earlier today. Egypt
is a leader in the region, and I was encouraged that the Egyptian authorities
are using their contacts on all sides to seek an immediate ceasefire. I've also
met Foreign Minister Liberman and Defense Minister Barak this afternoon since
arriving in Jerusalem. I will be meeting President Peres after our meeting with
you this evening, and Palestinian President Abbas tomorrow morning. I'm here to
offer my help and good offices to end the violence and find a path back towards
a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The world is watching and waiting. We
have not a moment to lose.
Again, Mr. Prime Minister, I count on your strong leadership while working
together with the United Nations for peace and stability and human rights in