UNITED NATIONS – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will make his first visit since taking the UN helm to Israel and the Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip, at the end of the month, diplomats said Thursday.
The UN chief will hold talks with Israeli leaders, travel to Ramallah to meet Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and to the Gaza Strip, where the United Nations runs a major Palestinian aid program, during the three-day visit beginning August 28.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said the visit will allow Guterres to “build a relationship” with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He will also hold meetings with the Israeli president and defense minister.
“We are very happy about this visit,” Danon told AFP.
“It’s a great opportunity for the secretary general to experience Israel, to meet the leaders of Israel and to understand the challenges that Israel faces day-in and day-out.”
Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour described the upcoming visit as “very important,” indicating that it signaled a stronger UN focus on the plight of Palestinians.
“The UN has been involved since its inception with the question of Palestine and will remain involved until the question is resolved in all its aspects on the basis of international law,” he told AFP by email.