"Mutual respect" for "legitimate aspirations" only path to peace, says Ban

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a joint press statement with Prime Minister of Israel. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

No solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine will be found without recognizing the "legitimate aspirations" of both peoples.

That's the view of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday in Jerusalem.

The UN chief also visited Gaza, and praised Palestinians there for rebuilding their lives "in the face of staggering obstacles and hardships."

Matthew Wells reports.

Mr Ban said that having witnessed the "ravages of war" in Gaza for himself during three previous visits, he was "profoundly moved" by the resilience of its people.

Conflict between Israel and Hamas militants has been on-going since 2006, when Hamas was elected to office, leading to a split with the Palestinian Authority in the Occupied West Bank.

Mr Ban said that "nearly 90 per cent of schools and hospitals" had been repaired since the large-scale fighting of 2014, but 70 per cent of Gaza's population still needed humanitarian assistance.

He said alongside relations with Israel, Palestinian unity was also vital.

"Palestine is one and until Gaza and the West Bank are united under a single democratic and legitimate Palestinian government, based on the rule of law…Gaza's prospects for full recovery will be limited."

Speaking in Jerusalem later on Tuesday, Mr Ban commended the deepening cooperation between Israel and the UN, and said the risk of renewed violence following the terror attacks against Israelis of recent months, remained high.

He said Israel needed to "prevent a one-state reality of perpetual conflict" that  was "incompatible with realising the national aspirations of the Israeli and Palestinian people."

Both Jews and Palestinians "have an undeniable and religious connection to this land," he added.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’22″

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