UN's Ban to Arrive in Israel for Snap Visit Tuesday

UN secretary general to meet Netanyahu, Abbas; in video message to Israelis, Palestinians, Ban Ki-moon calls for end to violence; says he understands Israelis' concerns, but insists barriers won't bring about peace.

AP

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will arrive in Israel on Tuesday for a surprise visit during which he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, respectively. He will also meet President Reuven Rivlin.

On Monday, Ban called on Israelis and Palestinians to calm the violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank in a video statement issued to both peoples.

"I'm dismayed, as we all should be, when I see young people, children, picking up weapons and seeking to kill," he said in the message. "Violence will only undermine the legitimate Palestinians aspirations for statehood, and the longing of Israelis for security." 

Ban said he understands the frustration and anger of young Palestinians at the continued occupation and settlement expansion, as well as their disappointment in their leaders and the international community. He called on Palestinian leaders to harness the Palestinians' energy for a peaceful struggle. "I urge you to turn your frustrations into a strong but peaceful voice for change," he said. "I'm not asking you to be passive but I am asking you to put down the weapons of despair."

The UN secretary general added that he understands the Israeli population's security concerns, and their anger about the current situation.

But Ban made it clear that severe reactions by security forces and the erection of separation barriers would not bring Israelis the peace and security they deserve. "There is no so called security solution," said Ban. "Youneed to see a political horizon to break this cycle of violence and fear."

The UN secretary general called on both sides not to allow extremists to turn the conflict into a religious one, to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount, and to work toward achieving a two-state solution.

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, is scheduled to join Ban for his visit and meeting with Netanyahu. Ahead of the visits, Danon said in a statement he expected the UN leader to issue a clear condemnation of what he called the Palestinian leadership's campaign of violent incitement.

U.S. Secretary John Kerry will also be making a snap visit in the region to try to quell tensions later this week. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet him in Berlin on Thursday, and then Kerry will meet Palestinian President Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah on Saturday.