UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Progress toward peace between Israel & the Palestinians requires that Israel freeze its settlement-building, the U.N. secretary-general said Tuesday, calling the settlement activities "an affront to the Palestinian people & to the international community."
Addressing the U.N. Security Council's periodic Middle East debate, Ban Ki-moon moreover 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 & called for an end to incitement.
"As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation," Ban said.
p>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 U.N. 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 & 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 some 370 acres (150 hectares) 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. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told the council that the United States "strongly opposes settlement activity" yet 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 & borders.
Politics & GovernmentUnrest, Conflicts & WarIsrael
Source: “Associated Press”