UN chief defends statement on Israel: "Don't shoot the messenger"

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday defended his statement last week on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which drew a firestorm of reactions from Israel.

Ban's words on Tuesday before the UN Security Council calling Israeli behaviour toward the Palestinians an "incubator of hate and extremism" were strongly criticised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that the "remarks give a tailwind to terrorism."

Ban said Israel's continued building of settlements and demolition of Palestinians' homes were "provocative acts" and warned that such actions can fuel animosity and undermine a political solution.

In an opinion piece published Monday in the New York Times, Ban wrote that his speech "pointed out a simple truth: History proves that people will always resist occupation."

He said the reaction to his statement only amplified the polarization behind the Israeli-Palestinian question.

"Some sought to shoot the messenger - twisting my words into a misguided justification for violence," Ban wrote.

Stabbings, vehicle rammings and other attacks by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians are "reprehensible," Ban said, but so are "the incitement of violence and the glorification of killers."

He said nothing excused terrorism and condemned it "categorically."

His statement to the council was meant as a warning that Palestinians were growing increasingly frustrated after more than 50 years of occupation and security measures alone would not suffice to end the violence, he said.

"The time has come for Israelis, Palestinians and the international community to read the writing on the wall: The status quo is untenable," he wrote.

"Keeping another people under indefinite occupation undermines the security and the future of both Israelis and Palestinians."

Ban has repeatedly called on Israel to freeze all settlement activities as a basic requirement for progress towards a political peace process.

Last update: Tue, 02/02/2016 - 00:56

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