Ban asks Israel to freeze settlement-building

2016-01-26 21:42
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (iStock)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (iStock)

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New York - Progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians requires that Israel freeze its settlement-building, the UN secretary general said on Tuesday, calling the settlement activities "an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community".

Addressing the UN Security Council's periodic Middle East debate, Ban Ki-moon also urged both sides to act now "to prevent the two-state solution from slipping away forever". He condemned rocket fire from militant groups in Gaza into Israel and called for an end to incitement.

"As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation," Ban said.

Dozens of people on both sides have died in four months of violence, which Israel blames on Palestinian incitement. Palestinians say the attacks stem from frustration at nearly five decades of Israeli military rule.

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour urged the council to act.

Israel's UN ambassador, Danny Danon, did not address settlement-building. He instead showed reporters what he called "terror dolls" that he said are used to teach hatred to Palestinian children.

The comments by Ban and others came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week said his government is committed to West Bank settlements. Ban said he was "deeply troubled" by new reports that Israel's government has approved plans for more than 150 new homes in settlements in the West Bank.

Last week, Israel approved the expropriation of about 150ha of land in another part of the territory. Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. Palestinians demand the territory as part of their future state.

Most of the international community views Israeli settlements in the territory as illegal or illegitimate. US Ambassador Samantha Power told the council that the United States "strongly opposes settlement activity" but added that "settlement activity can never in itself be an excuse for violence".

Israel says the fate of the settlements should be resolved in peace talks, along with other core issues like security and borders.

Read more on:    un  |  palestine  |  israel  |  middle east peace

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