Finally an Impartial Voice of Reason on the Violence in Jerusalem - the UN Chief Speaks and Visits
United Nations(UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has stood up and he has offered his voice in a plea for calm and for reason with regards to the spike in violence in Jerusalem. Ban will follow up his plea with a surprise visit to the region today in a bid to return the spirit of cooperativeness to Israelis and Palestinians in lieu of violence.
Ban released a video message to both Israelis and Palestinians yesterday on the UN's Facebook Page in a call for calm over the upheaval that has plagued the region for about a month. He cautioned Palestinians that violence would only harm their legitimate aspirations to statehood. "I know your hopes for peace have been dashed countless times. You are angry at the continued occupation and expansion of settlements...I am not asking you to be passive, but you must put down the weapons of despair," the UN Chief asked Palestinians.
To the Israelis he said he understood their concerns and fears "...When children are afraid to go to school, when anyone on the street is a potential victim, security is rightly your immediate priority", yet, he observed: "But walls, check points, harsh responses by security forces and house demolitions cannot sustain the peace and safety that you need and must have."
Ban Ki-moon has taken the most concerted impartial efforts thus far in an attempt to quell the growing friction in Jerusalem, where violence broke out about a month ago between Israelis and Palestinians over access to Holy sites. More than 40 Palestinians have died this far and eight Israelis. While tough talk has continued from Israel's leadership and complaints have come from Palestine's leaders, there has been no real discussion between the groups to end the violence. To this end, Ban Ki-moon's visit to the region today could jump start real efforts to peace.
However, the long term security in the region will hedge on the end of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and support for Palestinian independence as well as on Palestinian recognition of the state of Israel.