We cannot be a world of "us and them" warns UN chief

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Tel Aviv University, where he received the George S. Wise Medal, spoke to students and faculty and met with private sector representatives and the University’s research centres focusing on innovation and sustainable development. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

We cannot become a world that is divided into "us and them," according to the UN Secretary-General, speaking in Israel on Monday.

The UN chief was receiving an award at Tel Aviv University and was also due to meet the Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Matthew Wells reports.

Ban Ki-moon said that in his nine years Secretary-General he had never seen "such potent forces rising up in societies urging people to retreat."

He said that those who were "preying on insecurity" and "promoting fear" were urging communities and nations to "turn inward" and "build barriers".

He added that in his view, the most significant battle being fought now did not involve guns or tanks, but rather the battle over ideas.

Against the forces of fear and those who would divide the world into "us and them" stood the values defined in the UN Charter as "we the peoples," he said.

"This is a battle that we the peoples, simply cannot afford to lose. During my visit I will continue to deliver the same message: do not allow the extremists on either side to further fuel the conflict. Palestinian and Israeli leaders must stand firm against terror, violence and incitement."

Mr Ban urged his Israeli audience to be "global citizens" and help implement a "universal agenda" in line with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

He praised the growing cooperation between the UN and Israel in helping tackle the "challenges facing humanity."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’13″

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