UN chief pays tribute to Egypt’s role in avoiding ‘dramatic’ escalation in conflict across the Gaza-Israel border

3 April 2019

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has paid tribute to the role played by Egypt in helping to avoid a “dramatic” escalation of violence in Gaza over recent months, as tensions grew over Palestinian protests at the border, Hamas rocket attacks, and reprisal airstrikes by Israel.

At a press conference held in Cairo on Wednesday, Mr. Guterres said that Egypt was a “fundamental partner for the UN in relation to peace and security in the region,” and described the UN’s cooperation with Egypt as an essential aspect of the Organization’s work.

As well as avoiding escalation in the Gaza Strip, Mr. Guterres said that Egypt’s commitment has created the conditions for more effective humanitarian aid to the region, and is playing an ‘integral part” in forging unity between the two main Palestinian factions – the extremist group Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Fatah, which runs the Palestinian National Authority, in the occupied West Bank.

Last week, as Palestinian protesters prepared to mark the anniversary of the “Great March of Return” demonstrations along the border fence with Israel, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, updated the Security Council on the UN’s efforts along with Egypt, to mediate between Hamas and Israel in order to quell rocket attacks and airstrikes.

The UN chief – who arrived in the region at the weekend, addressing the Arab League in Tunis - said that everything must be done to guarantee that there will be two States side-by-side, Palestine and Israel, living together in peace and security, adding that Egypt and the UN see “eye to eye” on this issue, and that the UN will continue working with Egypt to achieve that objective.

Mr. Guterres also discussed the situation in war-ridden Yemen and Syria with members of the Government during his visit to Egypt, and he said that he believed both parties agree on what needs to be done for a lasting political solution to the conflicts in both countries.

UN chief arrives in Libya, in pursuit of peace, stability

The Secretary-General travelled from Egypt to Libya, where he will lend support to “a Libyan-led political process” and the creation of the conditions to stabilize the situation in the country, whose institutions (the Libyan National Parliament, the Presidential Council, the Government and the National Security Council) must, said Mr. Guterres, be unified.

Recent talks between the Prime Minister of the Libyan Unity Government, Faiez Serraj, and the de-facto ruler of eastern Libya Khalifa Haftar, Commander of the Libyan National Army, could pave the way to the country becoming a full partner in the international community, said the UN chief, with “normal institutions, and with its economy flourishing again, and with the international cooperation to benefit the whole region.”

 

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