Ban Slams 'Settlement Building' Despite Freeze

UN chief visiting Ramallah criticizes 'provocations' at Temple Mount, hitting out at Israeli police - not Arab rioters.

Ari Yashar, | updated: 13:07

Ban Ki-Moon, Rami Hamdallah
Ban Ki-Moon, Rami Hamdallah
Flash 90

A day after Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) admitted the government is conducting a covert building freeze against Jews in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Monday bashed "settlement building."

Ban was in Ramallah, where he held a joint news conference with Palestinian Authority (PA) unity government Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Just a day earlier he justified Hamas terrorism by saying its cause is Israeli "occupation," at a Cairo donor conference on Sunday that raised $5.4 billion for Gaza.

"While rebuilding is important, we must tackle the root causes of instability. We must give renewed attention to the West Bank. I once again strongly condemn the continued settlement activity by Israel," said Ban on Monday, according to AFP.

The statement may be a reference to construction plans in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos that far-left group Peace Now raised to thwart Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit with US President Barack Obama two weeks ago.

The move was in fact merely the approval of building tenders at some future date in the Jewish neighborhood of Israel's capital, and leaves intact the building freeze gripping the area.

Speaking just hours after Israeli police foiled Arab rioters who were planning violent disruptions on the Temple Mount - the holiest site in Judaism - by locking them in the Al Aqsa Mosque, Ban also slammed "provocations" in a clear barb at law enforcement and not the violent riots.

"I am...deeply concerned by repeated provocations at the holy sites in Jerusalem. These only inflame tensions and must stop," said Ban.

He further urged renewed "peace talks" between Israel and the PA, despite the fact that the PA torpedoed the last round of talks in April with a unity deal with the Hamas terror group, and despite Hamas's recent terror war on Israel.

"I urge Palestinians to show courage and continue engaging in the...peace process...(and) Israelis to do the same. Time is not on the side of peace. We need to act immediately to prevent a deepening of an already unsustainable status quo," said the UN chief.

"The Palestinian government of national consensus will play a lead role in...supervising Gaza's reconstruction with the support of the international community," added Ban of the unity government with Hamas. "We'd like to see the unity government succeed in assuming its rightful responsibilities and functions in Gaza."

Hamdallah spoke at the press conference about the pledged $5.4 million to rebuild Gaza after Hamas's terror war, saying "our plans are ready to rebuild, but it depends on the flow of funds. In 2009 most of the money that was promised didn't arrive. We hope this time it will be different."

While world leaders have often sought to make a division between the PA and Hamas, Hamdallah held another joint press conference just last week with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, following the PA unity government's first cabinet meeting - held in Gaza.

At the conference, Haniyeh said "the division in the Palestinian people has ended. We have one government and one region."




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