In Tel Aviv, UN chief calls for ‘responsibility’ from Israelis, Palestinians
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In Tel Aviv, UN chief calls for ‘responsibility’ from Israelis, Palestinians

Ban Ki-moon says that leaders must stop repeating the same platitudes and expecting a different result

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon receives an honorary award, at Tel Aviv University, during his visit to Israel, June 27, 2016. (Flash90)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon receives an honorary award, at Tel Aviv University, during his visit to Israel, June 27, 2016. (Flash90)

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to show “responsibility” by seeing each others’ points of view, and to end the cycle of repeating the same platitudes and expecting a different result.

Speaking at Tel Aviv University, where he was given an honorary award, Ban said those uselessly repetitive pronouncements undercut Israel’s contributions to innovation and technology. He also called on the international community to make efforts to build peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

“I have a Hebrew word foremost in my mind the word for responsibility, ahrayut,” Ban told his audience. “I have been told it is based on the word aher, the other, not me, the different one. In other words, responsibility is more than taking ownership for one’s actions, it is also about seeing your actions through the prisms of others’ concerns and seeking to understand their needs as your own.

“Leaders need to move beyond repeating the same phrases and expecting a different result. It is maddening and it is not worthy of the future you are seeking to build. Indeed, it is making a mockery of all the technology and innovation that you are nurturing here each and every day.”

Ban arrived in the country earlier in the day for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, amid a push for peace promoted by the European Union and a Turkey-Israel reconciliation deal.

“I strongly believe that members of the international community must exercise their collective and individual influence to help reach a common destination — an end to the occupation which will soon enter its fiftieth year, and the establishment of two states for two peoples, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition,” he said.

The UN chief is scheduled to meet with President Reuven Rivlin on Monday and with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. The Israeli premier is currently in Rome on an official visit where he is scheduled to unveil the full terms of an agreement to restore ties with Turkey, after six years of frayed relations.

Ban will also visit Ramallah on Tuesday to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and is set to pay a special visit to the Gaza Strip in order to inspect UN agencies’ aid work in the coastal territory.

Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, greets UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on his arrival in Israel, June 27, 2016 (Avi Davidi)
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, greets UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on his arrival in Israel, June 27, 2016 (Avi Davidi)

The visit comes amid renewed international diplomatic efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks stalled since 2014.

The EU’s 28 foreign ministers last week endorsed France’s plan to hold an international peace conference in Paris to advance the stalled peace process. Israel has repeatedly rejected the French initiative, arguing that it hardens Palestinian negotiating positions and thus distances peace.

But Israel went so far as to blast the peace push as “colonialist.”

“When I look at the sequence of the EU implementing labeling [for settlement products] and now the endorsement of an international conference, I feel that those are the ghosts of a colonial European past coming back to life,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon told The Times of Israel last week.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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