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UN Sec-Gen Begins Two Day Visit to Israel

Ban Ki-Moon

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Israel on Wednesday in a bid to encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders to continue the dialogue that began in Jordan in January.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh on the eve of his arrival to Israel, Ban urged the Israeli government to “to make some good gestures so that the meetings can continue.”

Ban added that “dignity and justice in this region are threatened, not only by authoritarian rule, but also by occupation and conflict.”

Israeli government officials said in response that Israel would be willing to engage in reciprocal goodwill gestures within the context of negotiations with the PA, and added that Israel is likely to announce the approval of a number of development projects in Gaza to coincide with Ban’s visit.

As reported here last week, the PA is demanding the release of high-profile prisoners, but Israeli officials said the government was instead focusing on possible economic gestures Israel could make to the PA in Judea and Samaria.

In a likely reference to the recent incidents of incitement by official PA organs, Ban said it is “essential that provocations stop, as called for by the Quartet, and that the parties build confidence and sustain these nascent talks.”

Ban will meet with President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. He will also visit Ramallah to meet with PA officials.

On Thursday, Ban will travel to Gaza to tour UN projects and institutions, but will not meet with Hamas officials. Later in the day, Ban will visit Sderot, the town that has borne the brunt of Kassam rocket barrages from Gaza.

Ban will end his trip by delivering the keynote address at the annual Herzliya Conference.

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