Israeli prime minister accuses UN chief of “encouraging terror”

27 Jan 16

The United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon has been accused by Israel of “encouraging terror” after he condemned the construction of Israeli settlements as an affront to the Palestinian people and the international community.

Taking a markedly less cautious tone in his address to the UN Security Council yesterday, Ban described Palestinian violence as driven by a “profound sense of alienation and despair” and “frustration” around the occupied territories that could only be dispelled if Israeli settlement activities were suspended.

“Progress towards peace requires a freeze of Israel’s settlement enterprise. 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,” he said.

Last week, Israel was widely criticised for approving plans to expand settlements in the West Bank.

Such moves were “steadily chipping away at the viability of the Palestinian state and the ability of Palestinian people to live in dignity”, Ban said.

He noted that it is “human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism”, while emphasising that the “full force of the law” must be applied to Israelis and Palestinians who commit crimes alike.

But Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the secretary general of providing a “tailwind for terror” and said the UN had “long lost its neutrality and moral power”.

Ban noted that failure to secure a lasting agreement will result in “ever greater isolation of the Israeli government”, as well as continuing waves of deadly terror attacks and murders, the possible financial collapse of the Palestinian government, deteriorating humanitarian conditions and the “agonising build up to another terrible war”.

He recalled the wider turbulence across the Middle East and said Israelis and Palestinians have an opportunity to restore hope to a region torn apart by intolerance and cruelty.

“I urge them to accept this historic challenge in the mutual interest of peace,” he stated.

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