2 April 2007 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon returned to United Nations Headquarters in New York today from a tour of the Middle East and said he was “encouraged by the very active support and determined will of Arab leaders” in tackling a variety of problems from the Palestinian issue to the conflicts in Sudan and Somalia.
“I was able to see the Arab leaders engaging on many important regional issues,” he told reporters.
Mr. Ban, who attended the Arab League summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and also visited Iraq, Egypt, Israel, the occupied Palestinian territory, and Lebanon, noted that with the formation of a Palestinian National Unity Government, “the active diplomatic initiatives are on the way: Arab peace initiatives, Arab leaders who are determined to visit this issue again as a foundation for establishing a good relationship and peace between Israel and Arab countries, and particularly between Israel and the Palestinian authorities.”
He was asked whether with the formation of the Unity Government by Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, the time was right now to lift a donors’ embargo imposed after Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, formed the Government alone last year.
“There was an understanding among the Quartet [UN, European Union, Russia and United States, who are seeking a two-State solution] that we will wait and see how the National Unity Government, particularly Hamas, will perform in terms of all these international expectations,” he replied.
“We hope that the National Unity Government will meet the expectations of the international community. When I had a brief meeting with the Foreign Minister Ziad Abu [Amr] of the National Unity Government he assured me that his government will continue to work to meet the expectations of the international community.”
The Quartet has called on the Government to commit to non-violence, recognize Israel and accept previously signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. “Realistically speaking, again, I thought from my meeting with the Foreign Minister of Palestine, and the National Unity Government, that it may take time for them to make their own positions coordinated among themselves,” Mr. Ban said.