UN chief calls on Israel to freeze settlement-building

Progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians requires that Israel freeze its settlement-building in the West Bank, the U.N. secretary-general said Tuesday, calling the settlement activities "an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community."

Progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians requires that Israel freeze its settlement-building in the West Bank, the U.N. secretary-general said Tuesday, calling the settlement activities “an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community.”

Addressing the U.N. Security Council’s periodic Middle East debate, Ban Ki-moon also 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 but focused his strongest comments on Israel’s settlement-building.

“As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation,” the U.N. chief said.

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. Palestinians demand the territory as part of their future state. Last week, Israel approved the expropriation of some 370 acres (150 hectares) of land in another part of the territory.

Most of the international community views Israeli settlements in the territory as illegal or illegitimate.

The last four months have seen near-daily Palestinian attacks that have killed 25 Israelis and an American student. At least 149 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, about two-thirds of them identified by Israel as attackers. The rest have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops.

Israel blames the violence on Palestinian incitement. Palestinians say the attacks stem from frustration at nearly five decades of Israeli military rule.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Ban’s comments “give a tail wind to terrorism,” and he said the U.N. “long ago lost its neutrality and its moral strength.”

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour later told reporters that all 15 council members acknowledged that Israel’s settlement building is “the main obstacle to any meaningful political process,” and he said the Palestinians are meeting with all council members to assess their readiness to act this year.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said the international community should create a “specific and credible political horizon” for a solution to the tensions in the region.

Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi said Israel should take the lead in calming tensions, and he said the Security Council “should seriously consider the question of providing international protection to the Palestinian people.” He gave no details, but Mansour said new council member Egypt would take the lead in exploring that issue.

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 and others came after 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.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told the council that the United States “strongly opposes settlement activity” but 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 and borders.

Just Posted

Red Deer mall repurposes former Sears location

The Great Indoors Market at Bower officially launches Nov. 10

Red Deer-area businesses prepare for economic boost from Canadian Finals Rodeo

Hotels, restaurants, gift shops get ready for rodeo fans

Sylvan Lake considering banning charcoal barbecues in lakefront parks

Town council wants more information on concerns about charcoal barbecues and over-sized tents

Winter Games relocates its Volunteer Centre

Now open at Bower Place in Red Deer

Coalition of consumer groups calls for new code of conduct for telecom sales

A new government-backed code of conduct is needed to protect consumers from… Continue reading

Canadian National Railway rakes in record revenues amid concerns over capacity

MONTREAL — Canadian National Railway Co. says it raked in the highest… Continue reading

Alberta Party candidates set for Red Deer

The Alberta Party will have candidates running in both Red Deer-South and… Continue reading

Montreal Alouettes defensive lineman Woody Baron co-authors children’s book

TORONTO — Woody Baron finds the spectre of tangling with a hulking… Continue reading

Sundin not surprised Leafs asking stars to take less money to stay together

TORONTO — Mats Sundin isn’t surprised the Toronto Maple Leafs are asking… Continue reading

Anywhere but Washington: Why DC stories rarely film in DC

WASHINGTON — It’s a hobby among District of Columbia locals: Picking apart… Continue reading

‘Halloween’ scares up $77.5 million in ticket sales

LOS ANGELES — Forty years after he first appeared in theatres, Michael… Continue reading

iPhone XR makes the right trade-offs for a cheaper price

NEW YORK — Apple offers you a simple trade-off with its new… Continue reading

Most Read