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Source: Secretary-General
18 January 2009

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, 18 January 2009
Secretary-General''s remarks at press conference at Conference on Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in Gaza
SG: Thank you, Mr. President.

I must first commend the leadership and initiative taken by President Mubarak to bring a durable ceasefire, and I would like to also commend initiative and leaderships of many world leaders gathered here, starting with President Sarkozy of France, but because of the time limit I am not going to recognize all individual contributions.

But this ceasefire unilaterally declared by Israel should be heading to a durable and sustainable ceasefire with the full support of the parties concerned. For that to be possible, Hamas must stop fighting, must stop sending rockets into Israel and Israel also must exercise at this time maximum restraint so that this ceasefire can sustain. The situation on the ground is still volatile. I look to all leaders in the world, particularly gathered here, to continue to work together to make this ceasefire a durable and sustainable one and which could be respected fully by all parties concerned.

As the Secretary-General for the United Nations I have a broad responsibility to take care of all humanitarian sufferings by the people in Gaza. I am going to dispatch early this week a humanitarian needs assessment team to Gaza, organized and led by the United Nations and together with the World Bank and other donor organizations, Within ten days I think we will be able to make an assessment report and we will issue an urgent humanitarian flash appeal, and within three weeks, we will be able to present an assessment report on early recovery and essential repairs. I urge and certainly hope that the major donor countries will generously contribute to this appeal.

Thirdly, we urgently need to bring back this Middle East peace process on track. We have already experienced sufferings and tragedies in 2006 in Lebanon, the situation in Gaza has been a repetition of the failure of this peace process, this is a failure of political will, at the level of people and at the level of leadership, all international community, particularly the Arab countries, should fully support and encourage this peace process on track. As a member of the Quartet, I will fully participate in trying to help the Middle East peace process,

The other important issue is the unity of the Palestinian people, with the division of Palestinian people, it may only be a stop gap, we cannot continue, there is no such guarantee that this will not repeat again. I urge again all Palestinian people, and particularly President Abbas, to reconcile and resolve all the pending issues, through dialogue, inclusive political dialogue and reconciliation.

What I am concerned about at this time is a very sensitive sign of Arab split. This is again very worrisome, I urge and I sincerely hope that leaders of the Arab world will be united. On the basis of a united Arab [world], on the basis of a united Palestinian people, we will be able to see peace and stability in this region. Peace and stability in this region, in the Middle East, has serious implications for the peace and stability in the world.

As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I will spare no effort, whether it be a political process, and particularly when it comes to humanitarian assistance, and I will do my best and I count on your leadership, all the leaders here and support from all the people of the world.

Thank you very much.

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