Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, met on Friday (16 August 2013) with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Following are their statements at the start of their meeting:
Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Mr. Secretary, welcome to Jerusalem. It’s always a pleasure to see you and to discuss the issues of our time with you, the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I know, like me, you want to see the peace process which has been resumed, succeed. I know that like me you know that the most important thing is to prepare our respective peoples for peace and in this regard, I’m sure you are going to look into the abuse of UNRWA camps in Gaza that have been used purportedly for peace camps, but actually to instill the culture of hatred and the ideas of destroying Israel amidst Palestinian children. It’s very hard to habituate and prepare the next generation for peace when they’re told that Jews are the descendants of pigs and monkeys and that the Jewish State has no right to exist, so I trust that you will make sure that these abuses of U.N. goals and U.N. funds does not continue.
I look forward to discuss with you the urgent issues of the day that plague our region: First and foremost Iran’s continual quest to achieve nuclear weapons and of course the unfolding situation in Syria and elsewhere in our region. I think it’s important to discuss the real problems and not those that are often discussed in the media. It wasn’t until long ago that people said that the root cause of the instability in the Middle East was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And now, you can’t say that with a straight face because from the Atlantic Ocean to the Khyber Pass, you can see this endemic instability that is plaguing so much of the Arab and Muslim world. We, of course would like to see it, not only restore stability, but also restore peace and move towards prosperity and equitable relations among nations, including with our nation, but I think today everybody understands that the root cause of the instability in the Middle East and beyond has to do with the convulsion that is historic and cultural in nature of which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is merely one of many, many such manifestations.
As far as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, we have to get to the root cause of the problem and the root cause was and remains the persistent refusal to recognize the Jewish State in any boundary. It doesn’t have to do with the settlements – that’s an issue that has to be resolved, but this is not the reason that we have a continual conflict.
The conflict preceded the establishment of a single settlement by half a century and when we rooted out all the settlements in Gaza, the attacks continued because of this basic opposition to the Jewish State. I think it’s important to understand that if we build a few hundred apartments in Gilo or Ramot, or the other Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem, or in urban blocks that everybody knows, including the Palestinian negotiating team, according to the Al Jazeera leaks, will be part of the final peace map in Israel, I think these are not the real issues that we need to discuss.
The real issue is how to get a demilitarized Palestinian state to finally recognize and accept the one and only Jewish State. These and other matters of course will I’m sure inform our discussions. There are a few other things that I prefer to discuss with you privately, but I do look forward to discussing with you all these and other issues and I welcome you once again, Mr. Secretary, to Jerusalem."
UN Secretary General Ki-moon: "Thank you Mr. Prime Minister. Thank you for your very kind welcome and hospitality and I’m also very pleased to see you in good health and I’m really appreciative of your receiving me despite your recent operation. I sincerely hope that you will recover as quickly as possible and continue to be healthy and as dynamic as ever."
Prime Minister Netanyahu: "You’re beating me on a muted day."
UN Secretary General Ki-moon: "Thank you very much. It’s a great honor for me to visit Israel as the Secretary-General.
I think my visit is taking place at crucially important timing for the Middle East peace process, which you courageously and wisely agreed to resume. I’m here to lend my strong support, of myself and the United Nations and the Quartet.
I’m encouraged that Israelis and Palestinians have reengaged in direct dialogue, but for these negotiations to have a chance at success, they need to be meaningful. I know that a program has remained open and for decades causing hardships and casualties on both sides. It might sometimes seem that the program will never be solved.
Dealing these symptoms might seem easier in the short-term. It takes courage and vision and creativity to decide that the long-term cost of the program is actually too high. That is what is happening now with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. I applaud Prime Minister Netanyahu for having the courage to set out a solution as a priority. I know that many Israelis look at the original unrest and ask whether now is the time to try to make peace with the Palestinians. Some might want greater government focus on tackling other issues within their own society. I also say to the Israeli people that this process should and must lead to increase the security and hope for a more stable region.
The time is now for Israel to be fully respected as a member of the international community. In this regard, I would very much welcome a more constructive relationship between Israel and the Human Rights Council. I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu recognizes that Israel will never realize its potential internally or externally as long as there is no peace with Israel’s closest neighbors, the Palestinians. The Prime Minister knows that occupying Palestinian land is not the long-term solution to Israel’s regional challenges.
I’m here to urge all the leaders to continue along the path to peace and to underscore a shared commitment to walk together to make 2013 a decisive year for Israel-Palestinian peace and peace in the region. And as you have discussed, I’m also ready to discuss all other regional issues including the Syrian crisis, Egyptian situations and Iranian nuclear issues and the situation in Lebanon and the situation in a broader Middle East peace and stability and I’m grateful for your leadership and count on your continuing leadership and great success and prosperity of Israeli people and government.
Todah. Thank you."
Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Thank you Mr. Secretary."