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14 September 2016
Question: My name is Ibtisam Azem from Al-Araby al-Jadeed newspaper. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said in a video statement some days ago that was published in his Facebook, he compared the requesting of dismantlement of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories to ethnic cleansing or calling for ethnic cleansing. So, I would like to hear your comment on this and besides the fact that all parties should go back to the negotiation table. Thank you.
Secretary-General: With my due respect to Prime Minister Netanyahu, I do not agree to what he said. The United Nations position on the settlements and the occupation has been clearly stated on many, hundreds of times. I, myself, I do not remember how many times I have been stating this position. And it’s not only the United Nations. The whole international community is saying in the same way that settlements are a violation of international law. And the occupation, longer than five decades, should be resolved as soon as possible through negotiations.
And the Palestinian people and the Israeli people, they are the neighbours, and they cannot change this status, relationship, I think, millions of years, as long as they exist. Therefore, it is important that they immediately resume their negotiation for a two-State solution, so that the Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security side by side.
In that regard, the importance of this two-State solution has not been much emphasized all the time because of lack of negotiations. In that regard, I’d like to take this opportunity to express my very deep concern about the health of former Israeli President Shimon Peres. He was one of the leaders who has been strongly advocating this two-State solution and I sincerely hope that his health will improve as soon as possible.
Question: Follow-up on that question from before about the situation in the West Bank. There’s an article in today’s Wall Street Journal that documents how, for instance, the word “occupying Power” refers to Israel 530 times as opposed to seven other situations around the world including Crimea, northern Cyprus and maybe you are familiar with the situation in Western Sahara in which those resolutions don’t mention the word “occupation” or “occupying Power”, and there are other instances. In the 10 years you’ve been Secretary-General, do you think there has been any change in what is perceived by many, especially in the United States and Israel, as a one-sided view at the United Nations of Israel? Also, who’s better for the United Nations: Trump or Clinton?
Secretary-General: Each and every circumstance and situation or conflict has their specific mandate, either by the Security Council or the General Assembly, and the United Nations has been trying to deal with in accordance with specific mandates. When it comes to the West Bank and all this occupation by Israeli authorities, there have been many relevant Security Council resolutions and there have been some international court decisions that they are illegal. Therefore, that situation should be resolved as soon as possible.
This situation cannot continue like this way, five decades or six decades, where Palestinian peoples do not have any place to live peacefully. That’s why the United Nations Security Council and the Quartet and European Union and many other concerned, interested organizations, have been involved in this process. And I sincerely hope, again, I urge Israeli authorities and Palestinian authorities to sit down together to resolve this issue. There’s full support, unconditional support from the international community that they want to see the resolution of this issue. Yeah.
For information media. Not an official record.