Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday of supporting Palestinian terrorism.
“It is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism,” Ban had told a Security Council meeting in New York.
In what became a war of words, Netanyahu shot back: “The secretary-general’s remarks provide a tailwind for terrorism. There is no justification for terrorism. Those Palestinians who murder do not want to build a state, they want to destroy a state and they say this openly.”
Ban made his remarks on the same day that terrorist victim Shlomit Krigman, 23, was buried in Jerusalem. The young woman was fatally stabbed on Monday evening by two Palestinian terrorists.
The secretary-general had condemned both Palestinian and Israeli violence in his opening remarks to the council.
“Stabbings, vehicle attacks and shootings by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians – all of which I condemn – and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, have continued to claim lives,” Ban said.
“But security measures alone will not stop the violence.
They cannot address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians – especially young people,” the secretary- general said.
“Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process.”
In Jerusalem, Netanyahu scoffed at Ban’s remarks as he explained that the violence was the result of a hatred of Jews, rather than a reaction to any political reality on the ground.
“They want to murder Jews for being Jews and they say this openly. They do not murder for peace and they do not murder for human rights,” he added.
“The United Nations long ago lost its neutrality and its moral force, and the secretary- general’s remarks do not improve its standing.”
Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said, “The secretary- general is supporting terrorism instead of fighting it. It’s unacceptable to support terrorism, no matter what the reason.”
Terrorism and violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not the only topic on the UNSC’s agenda. Ban, the US, the UK and many other UN member states also called on Israel to freeze all settlement activity.
Some nations, like New Zealand and Spain, called for a UNSC resolution on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. The US has in the past threatened to veto such resolutions. It is one of five permanent members of the UNSC, with the ability to block resolutions.
Their words came on a day when Peace Now announced that the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria had last week approved 158 new homes in West Bank settlements.
But Ban and member states focused on other settlement activity in Area C of the West Bank, such as the pending reclassification to state land of 150 hectares of farmland in the Jordan Valley. Settlers have farmed much of that area for the past two decades and the reclassification does not change its usage.
UN member states also took issue with the recent decision to expand the territory under the auspices of the Gush Etzion regional council to include the 4-hectare site once owned by the US Presbyterian Church. US millionaire Irving Moskowitz has purchased the property and settlers hope to use it as a tourist center.
“These provocative acts are bound to increase the growth of settler populations, further heighten tensions and undermine any prospects for a political road ahead,” Ban said. “Progress toward peace requires a freeze of Israel’s settlement enterprise.”
US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said her government strongly opposes settlement activity.
Changing the designation of land and the issuance of building tenders are fundamentally incompatible with the two-state solution and raises legitimate concerns about Israel’s intentions, Power said.
Still, she noted, “settlement activity can never be an excuse for violence.”
Power condemned the recent Palestinian terrorist attacks that took the lives of Krigman and of Dafna Meir, 38, last Sunday, calling them “reprehensible and inexcusable.”
She also condemned “settler violence” and the attack in the Palestinian village of Duma that took the lives of three members of the Dawabsha family.
PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki called on the Security Council saying, “As we speak, Palestinians, the majority of them youths, are being killed daily in the streets, many extra-judicially executed by occupying forces and settlers.
“Claims that such violence and crimes are necessary to ensure Israeli security are offensive and must be rejected. All people are entitled to security; it is not exclusive to Israel and cannot be achieved by illegal and aggressive actions.”
He asked the UN to help protect the Palestinian people from Israel and to issue a Security Council resolution in this regard.
The question is not what Israel will do to end its “colonial settlement regime” but rather what will the international community do to ensure that Israel complies with international law, which deems such actions to be illegal, Malki said.