“So-called facts on the ground in the occupied West Bank are steadily chipping away the viability of a Palestinian state and the ability of Palestinian people to live in dignity”, Ban told a periodic Security Council meeting on the conflict. “Progress towards peace requires a freeze of Israel’s settlement enterprise”.
Ban said he was concerned about reports Tuesday that the Israeli defense ministry had approved plans for more than 150 new homes in the occupied West Bank, as well as expropriation last week of approximately 150 hectares of land in the fertile Jordan Valley.
“Continued settlement activities are an affront. They rightly raise fundamental questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution”, Ban said.
“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 added.
International law views the West Ban and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories”, considering all Jewish settlement building on the land illegal.
Ban also condemned “stabbings, vehicle attacks, and shootings by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians”, adding that Palestinians’ frustration “is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process”.
“Some have taken me to task for pointing out this indisputable truth. Yet, 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,” the UN chief said.
Responding, the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said: “The comments of the UN Secretary General encourage terror. There is no justification for terror.”
He also rejected the prospect of Israeli security measures on the West Bank bringing an end to the latest cycle of violence, which began in October.
More than 160 Palestinians have been killed in a months-long wave of violence that began in October, according to Palestinian health ministry.
Twenty-nine Israelis or foreigners have been killed in the ongoing violence, during the same period.
Author Mustafa Çağlayan
Additional reporting The Muslim News
[Photo: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Photographer: Mustafa Yalcin/AA]