Ban: Settlement activity endangers negotiations

Secretary-general also condemns rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel; warns of "dangerous tensions" between Israel, PA.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 370 (R) (photo credit: Ki Price / Reuters)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 370 (R)
(photo credit: Ki Price / Reuters)
Continued West Bank settlement activity endangers Israeli Palestinian negotiations in an already dangerous climate, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday in a statement he released in honor of the UN’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
“I am alarmed by the increasingly dangerous situation on the ground.  There has been an escalation of violence and incitement,” Ban said.  
“Although I welcome Israel’s release of prisoners as part of the agreement to renew talks, its settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continues, and remains a cause for very grave concern.
“Announcements of thousands of new housing units cannot be reconciled with the goal of a two-state solution and risk the collapse of negotiations.  Settlements are in violation of international law and constitute obstacles to peace,” Ban said.
He called on Israel to stop building in Jewish homes in east Jerusalem and to halt West Bank settlement activity as he warned that the international community would not recognize the structures as belonging to Israel.
Ban said he was concerned by Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank, because they lacked building permits.
“This underscores the importance of Palestinian access to a fair planning and zoning regime. I remind Israel of its obligation to protect the population under occupation,” Ban said.
Ban called on Fatah and Hamas to unify and added that he was concerned by the situation in Gaza.
“I reiterate my condemnation of all rocket fire into Israel, as well as of the construction of tunnels into Israel by militants.  Following the recent tunnel discovery, Israel suspended the transfer of construction material into Gaza, including for humanitarian projects.  While I recognize Israel’s legitimate security concerns, I urge Israel to ensure that the needs of the civilian population in Gaza are met,” Ban said.
He also called on the international community to contribute to the UN Relief and Works Agency, which assists Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank and the region.
The UN’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is a moment to reflect on the situation faced by the Palestinians and to consider the responsibility international governments and civil societies have toward the peace process, Ban said.
“The goal remains clear – an end to the occupation that started in 1967 and the creation of a sovereign, independent, and viable State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders, living side by side in peace with a secure State of Israel.  Jerusalem is to emerge from negotiations as the capital of two States, with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all.  An agreed solution must be found for millions of Palestinian refugees around the region,” Ban said.
“We cannot afford to lose the current moment of opportunity.  I ask all in the international community to work together to translate the solidarity expressed on this occasion into positive action for peace and justice,” Ban said.