Ban tells Assad to end violence, tells Israel to end occupation


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on embattled President Bashar Assad Sunday to stop killing his own people and told Israel it must end its occupation of Arab and Palestinian territories.

“Today, I say again to President Bashar Assad of Syria. Stop the violence. Stop killing your people. The path of repression is a dead end,” Ban said during a conference on transition and democracy in the Arab world in Beirut Sunday.

“The winds of change will not cease to blow. The flame ignited in Tunisia will not be dimmed.” He said

Ban stressed that the transition would not be easy, and that democracy “does not come into being with one or two elections.”

He laid out four prerequisites for success, including Arab countries’ need to create “50 million jobs within the next decade to absorb young entrants to the workforce.”

The United Nations estimates that over 5,000 people have so far died in Assad’s ten-month crackdown on anti-democracy protesters.

The UN chief also called for an end to Israeli “occupation” in the Arab world, saying the illegal building of settlements worked against a two-state solution.

“The Israeli occupation of Arab and Palestinian territories must end. So must violence against civilians,” Ban said in his keynote address at the conference in Beirut .

“Settlements, new and old, are illegal. They work against the emergence of a viable Palestinian state,” said the UN secretary general.

“A two-state solution is long overdue. The status quo offers only the guarantee of future conflict.”

Ban is in Lebanon on a three-day visit, which includes Sunday’s conference organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and entitled “Reform and Transitions to Democracy.” He traveled to Naqoura, south Lebanon Saturday where he met with UNIFIL officials to discuss the security situation in the area.