UN chief Ban Ki-moon to visit Gaza Strip



UN chief Ban Ki-moon to visit Gaza Strip United Nations: Slamming the Israel's policy of continued blockade of Gaza Strip, UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday said that he will go to that part of the Palestinian territory to assess the situation for himself.

"When I visit Israel and the Occupied Territories immediately after the Quartet meeting, I will go to Gaza so that I can assess the situation for myself," Ban said.

"It is time for a change of direction," he said.

Ban condemned Israel's policies and said these policies were destroying hopes of the Palestinian people.

"The Israeli policy of closure destroys hope -- hope of a better life for all people, hope for recovery from the destruction and pain of the recent war," Ban said.

"As policy, it is counterproductive. It undercuts moderates and empowers extremists. It destroys legitimate commerce and encourages smuggling. It blocks the road to a peaceful future for both sides in this conflict," he added.

Senior UN official on humanitarian affairs John Holmes has described the continuing blockade of Gaza as "frustrating" and called on Israel to allow essential goods to reach the Palestinians so they can lead a "normal life."

Ban will be meeting the Quartet, which is the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, on March 19 in Moscow to discuss the situation.

"I will work with our partners and the two sides to find a way to resume talks for a just resolution of this conflict," he said. "I will also have separate bilateral talks with the Russian leadership."

PTI