UN Chief in Surprise Visit to Palestine

UN Chief in Surprise Visit to Palestine UN Chief in Surprise Visit to Palestine

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has begun an unannounced visit to Israel and Palestine on Tuesday after nearly three weeks of deadly unrest, a UN official said.

“He will arrive today for a two-day visit to Israel and Palestine,” the official said on condition of anonymity on Tuesday.

Ban’s visit follows a wave of violence in Beit-ul-Moqaddas, Palestine and Israel that have raised warnings of a full-scale Palestinian uprising, despite international efforts to calm tensions.

“Violence will only undermine the legitimate Palestinian aspirations for statehood and the longing of Israelis for security,” Ban said in a video message to Palestinians and Israelis released late Tuesday.

“To the youth of Palestine, I say: I understand your frustration. I know your hopes for peace have been dashed countless times,” Ban said, adding that the Palestinian youth should turn their frustrations into “a strong, but peaceful, voice for change”.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to meet this week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Germany and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.

  Israel Razes Homes

Israeli troops early on Tuesday demolished the West Bank home of a Palestinian jailed for killing an Israeli settler in a knife attack late last year, the army said.

The army and members of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, also arrested Hassan Yusef, a top West Bank leader of Hamas, in an overnight raid in Beitunia, near Ramallah.

Yusef was a founding member of Hamas in the late 1980s and has spent years in Israeli jails. He was elected to the Palestinian Parliament from prison in 2006 and was only released from his last stint in jail in June.

Hamas has always said that Yusef works only for its political wing, not its military wing. The army said on Tuesday that Yusef has incited terrorism and publicly encouraged attacks on Israelis.

Last week, Israel announced a wave of new security measures, including the sealing off of East Beit-ul-Moqaddas neighborhoods, the revocation of citizenship of alleged attackers and their families, and the intensification of punitive home demolitions. Some Israeli politicians have encouraged residents to arm themselves to fend off the threat of stabbings and gun assaults.