United Nations (UN) chief General Ban Ki-moon has issued a scathing attack on the Israeli government for what he has declared the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and settlement construction on the occupied lands.
The Secretary General told the New York Times on Sunday that enough is enough, saying that the Palestinian people can no longer tolerate Israel’s aggression. “History proves that people will always resist occupation,” Ban told the newspaper.
The UN chief denounced Tel Aviv’s plans to build over 150 new settlements and to confiscate 370 acres of agricultural land in the occupied West Bank.
“Israeli settlements keep expanding,” he wrote, adding, “At the same time, thousands of Palestinian homes in the West Bank risk demolition… Palestinian frustration and grievances are growing under the weight of nearly a half-century of occupation. Ignoring this won’t make it disappear.”
He said that keeping the Palestinians “under indefinite occupation undermines the security and the future of both Israelis and Palestinians.”
The South Korean diplomat also expressed concern about the continuation of tensions in Palestinian territories, which he said may jeopardize the so-called two-state solution. “I am so concerned that we are reaching a point of no return for the two-state solution.”
The UN secretary general has voiced strong criticism of Israel’s policies in recent days.
On January 26, he said in an address to the UN Security Council that Israel’s settlement activities should be stopped for “progress towards peace” to be achieved. The following day, Ban told a UN committee on Palestinian rights that the Palestinians, especially the youth, “are losing hope. They are angered by the stifling policies of the occupation.”
The remarks prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accuse Ban of giving a “tailwind to terror.” Netanyahu also claimed that the UN had lost its neutrality “a long time ago.”
In an apparent reaction to such rhetoric from Netanyahu, Ban titled hisTimes piece “Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel.”
More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
The UN and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because they are built on lands captured by Israel in a 1967 war, and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.
The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine have created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.
The Palestinian Authority wants the West Bank as part of its future independent state, with East al-Quds as its capital.