UN chief and Israeli PM trade barbs over settlements

PM Netanyahu accuses UN’s Ban of “encouraging terror” after he criticises illegal settlements in occupied West Bank.

Ban Ki-moon, Benjamin Netanyahu
Netanyahu said the UN lost its neutrality and moral powers 'long ago' [File: Sebastian Scheiner/AP]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reacted angrily to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s comments about Israeli settlements, accusing the UN chief of “encouraging terror”.

Speaking at the UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East in New York on Tuesday, Ban criticised Israel over reports it was planning to build “150 new homes in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank”.

“These provocative acts are bound to increase the growth of settler populations, further heighten tensions and undermine any prospects for a political road ahead,” he said.

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“Continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community. They rightly raise fundamental questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution.”

Ban went on to say that Palestinian frustration is growing and that, “as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism”.

Protests against Israel’s ongoing occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip boiled over into violence in recent months.

Since October 1, Israeli forces or settlers have killed at least 165 Palestinians, including bystanders, unarmed demonstrators and attackers.  At least 25 Israelis have also been killed.

In a statement on Tuesday night, Netanyahu said that “the comments of the UN secretary-general encourage terror”, adding that the UN “lost its neutrality and its moral powers” long ago.

“There is no justification for terrorism. The Palestinian terrorists don’t want to build a state, they want to destroy a state, and they state that proudly,” Netanyahu said, according to Israeli media.

“They want to murder Jews everywhere and they state that proudly. They don’t murder for peace and they don’t murder for human rights.”

Source: Al Jazeera