Ban Ki-moon doubles down on Israel comments

He also called for a freeze on settlement activity. Most of the international community views Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal or illegitimate.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at a press briefing during the 26th African Union Summit at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on January 31. In a piece published in the New York Times, Ban called for a freeze on settlement activity in Israel. Solan Kolli / EPA
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UNITED NATIONS // United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon called Israeli criticism of attacks on its settlement policy unsustainable in an opinion piece published Sunday by The New York Times, doubling down on comments earlier in the week that Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, said encouraged terrorism.

In the piece entitled, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel,” Mr Ban reiterates many of his earlier comments to the Security Council Tuesday, calling Israeli settlement activity “an affront to the Palestinian people”, adding that “it is human nature to resist occupation”.

He also called for a freeze on settlement activity. Most of the international community views Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal or illegitimate.

“Criticism of the United Nations – or attacks against me – comes with the territory. But when heartfelt concerns about shortsighted or morally damaging policies emanate from so many sources, including Israel’s closest friends, it cannot be sustainable to keep lashing out at every well-intentioned critic,” Mr Ban wrote.

Mr Ban wrote that he would always stand up for Israel’s right to exist, but added: “the time has come for Israelis, Palestinians and the international community to read the writing on the wall: The status quo is untenable. Keeping another people under indefinite occupation undermines the security and the future of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

His criticism was sparked by Israel’s recent approval of 150 new homes in settlements on the West Bank. In the opinion piece, Ban also pointed out that last month Israel declared 370 acres in the West Bank, “state land,” which he said “typically leads to exclusive settler use”.

* Associated Press