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Netanyahu: Israel is not occupying Gaza or changing Jerusalem's status quo

“Israel does not occupy the Gaza Strip”, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed, while expressing his commitment to maintaining the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

During a press conference held with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in Jerusalem yesterday, Netanyahu said: “The root of violence that launched aggression in Gaza was not a result of the Israeli occupation because Israel does not occupy the Gaza Strip.”

“The cause of the violence that we witnessed last summer [an Israeli offensive on Gaza lasting 51 days] was the rockets launched by Hamas onto Israeli territory,” Netanyahu added.

As for the developments taking place at Al-Aqsa Mosque, Netanyahu said: “I am personally committed to seeing that the status quo is maintained in Jerusalem as it has been for tens of years. Israel, as a country, is also committed to maintaining the status quo.”

Netanyahu warned of the unilateral measures “taken by the Palestinians at the UN”, emphasising that “these measures will not push the peace process forward but hinder it”.

During the press conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said: “After a summer of suffering and massive destruction, we urge the leaders and the member states involved to find a path towards peace and to focus on the urgent issue of rebuilding Gaza.”

“The conflict has reached an unprecedented amount of damage and pain for the civilians living in the Gaza Strip,” he added.

Ban emphasised the importance of “beginning large-scale reconstruction of the Gaza Strip without further delay”.

Earlier in the day, the UN Secretary-General paid a visit to Ramallah where he met with the Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and later went to Jerusalem to meet with Netanyahu before heading to Gaza today.

Ban’s visit to Palestine comes after he participated in the Cairo Conference on Palestine – Reconstructing Gaza, which was held in the Egyptian capital on Sunday.

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