UN chief to make first visit to Israel next week
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UN chief to make first visit to Israel next week

Antonio Guterres to meet Netanyahu and Abbas, go to Gaza, during 3-day trip

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Cairo on February 15, 2017. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Cairo on February 15, 2017. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will, for the first time since taking the helm at the UN, pay a visit to Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip next week.

The UN chief will hold talks with Israeli leaders, travel to Ramallah to meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and to the Gaza Strip, where the United Nations runs a major Palestinian aid program, during the three-day visit.

On Monday, Guterres will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, meet with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and attend a special event at the Israel Museum, according to a statement from Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon.

On Tuesday, he will meet with Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, and on Wednesday will visit the Gaza Strip and Israeli communities along the border with the enclave.

The former prime minister of Portugal will wrap up his trip Wednesday with an address at the Tel Aviv Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot, the statement said.

Danon said he hoped the trip would reveal “the true face of Israel,” its accomplishments, as well as its challenges.

Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon speaks to the UN Security Council on July, 25, 2017, as terror victim Oran Almog sits behind him. (UN Photo/Manuel Elias via Israel's mission to the UN)
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon speaks to the UN Security Council on July, 25, 2017, as terror victim Oran Almog sits behind him. (UN Photo/Manuel Elias via Israel’s mission to the UN)

Earlier this month, Danon said the Israeli government will discuss strengthening the mission of the UN interim force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), following a series of skirmishes along the UN-monitored demarcation line between Israel and Lebanon.

Since taking over from Ban Ki-moon on January 1, Guterres has been cautious in his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, partly in response to US accusations that the United Nations was biased against Israel.

In March, the UN chief demanded that a report by a UN body be withdrawn after it accused Israel of imposing an apartheid system on the Palestinians.

Guterres had initially distanced himself from the report, but the United States insisted that it be withdrawn altogether.

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