President Reuven Rivlin (R) and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. (AP/Dan Balilty) (AP/Dan Balilty)
President Reuven Rivlin (R) and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Oron goldin

IDF soldiers Oron Shaul (L) and Hadar Goldin. (IDF)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Israel and President Reuven Rivlin asked him to help mediate the return of the bodies of two IDF soldiers who were killed in Gaza in 2014, and to help bring home two Israelis being held captive by Hamas.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday hosted United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at his residence in Jerusalem during Ban’s final scheduled visit to Israel in his current capacity as head of the UN.

Rivlin used the opportunity to ask Ban for assistance on securing the return of the bodies of two IDF soldiers who were killed and kidnapped by Hamas in Gaza in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge, in addition to the return of two Israelis who are currently believed to be alive and held captive by Hamas.

“On the humanitarian side, Hamas still refuses to give—even to the Red Cross—information on the fate of two of our [slain] soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. At the same time, we are very worried about two Israeli citizens both suffering poor mental health, one Muslim and one Jewish. They are being held by Hamas after crossing into Gaza two years ago. Again, Hamas has refused to give details about their well-being or where they are held. I ask you to do all you can to bring an end to this pain,” Rivlin told Ban.

Ban offered his condolences for the four Israelis killed in the Palestinian terror attack at Tel Aviv’s Sarona market earlier this month, and urged Israel to work with the French-led initiative to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which it has been strongly rejected by Israel.

“Stabbings, shootings, and bombings will not achieve anything because violence is never a solution. Such acts are precisely designed to breed fear as uncertainty. They eat away at trust and hope, and drive Palestinians and Israelis further apart and strip away any sense of empathy for one another,” said Ban.

“I encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders to engage with the [Middle East] Quartet on its recommendations and on creating the conditions for the resumption of meaningful negotiations. Let me assure you, Mr. President, that the United Nations stands ready to support all efforts in achieving this goal,” the UN leader added.

Both Rivlin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have publicly rejected the French-led peace initiative, which excluded both Israeli and Palestinian representatives at its global summit in early June, saying that the only way to achieve peace is through direct negotiations. At the same time, Palestinian leaders won’t engage in direct talks with Israel and have vowed to never again do so..

Addressing the European Parliament last Wednesday in Hebrew, Rivlin said that Israel seeks peace and support a process, but there is no substitute to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The French initiative suffers from fundamental faults. The attempt to return to negotiations for negotiations’ sake, not only does not bring us near the long-awaited solution, but rather drags us further away from it,” he stated.

Rivlin also pointed out that the timing of the initiative was erroneous. “Currently the practical conditions, the political and regional circumstances, which would enable us to reach a permanent agreement between us – the Israelis and the Palestinians – are failing to materialize.”

By: JNS.org and United with Israel Staff