UN's Ban condemns Israeli settlements
Ban Ki-moon's words came amid clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at Al-Aqsa mosque
Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Ramallah, West Bank on 13 October (AFP).
Published date: 13 February 2015 02:00 UTC | Last update: 8 years 1 month ago
UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday slammed Israeli settlement building and warned against "provocations" at Jerusalem's holy sites, calling for renewed peace talks to avoid further conflict with the Palestinians.
Ban was in the West Bank city of Ramallah where he met Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah, a day after a Cairo conference at which international donors pledged $5.4 billion (4.3 billion euros) to rebuild the war-ravaged Gaza Strip.
"The amount that has been committed, pledged by the international community is quite encouraging," Ban said at a joint news conference with Hamdallah.
The funds would go towards the "urgently needed" reconstruction of infrastructure and homes, he said, referring to an "unprecedented" level of destruction in Gaza where nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed in the 50-day war in July and August.
But "while rebuilding is important, we must tackle the root causes of instability," Ban said.
"We must give renewed attention to the West Bank.
"I once again strongly condemn the continued settlement activity by Israel," the UN chief said, echoing international condemnation of plans for new settler homes on occupied Palestinian territory.
The White House and European Union have slammed Israel's approval in September for 2,600 new settlement units in Israeli-annexed Arab east Jerusalem.
The settlements issue has caused the breakdown of numerous rounds of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
"I am also deeply concerned by repeated provocations at the holy sites in Jerusalem. These only inflame tensions and must stop," Ban said.
His comments came hours after Israeli police and Palestinian protesters clashed at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, the scene of the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.
The site is holy to both Jews and Muslims, and is an underlying cause of Israeli-Palestinian tension, which has heightened in Jerusalem since the Gaza conflict.
Ban called for the two sides to revive a stagnant peace process that collapsed in April despite intense US efforts.
"I urge Palestinians to show courage and continue engaging in the... peace process... (and) Israelis to do the same," Ban said.
"I welcome renewed international political leadership and action. Time is not on the side of peace.
"We need to act immediately to prevent a deepening of an already unsustainable status quo... this is the only way to avoid yet another tragic conflict in the future," he said.
Stay informed with MEE's newsletters
Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked
Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.