Ban 'ashamed' at lack of progress in peace talks

Days after repeatedly attacking Israel, UN chief says he is working for benefit of the people in the region.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

Days after he appeared to express sympathy for Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took a softer tone on Friday, saying he was "ashamed" at the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"I feel guilty, ashamed of the lack of progress," he was quoted by AFP as having told an event organized by the United Nations Association - UK in association with foreign affairs think-tank Chatham House in London.

"Basically it's up to the leadership of Israel and the Palestinians to put an end to the conflict," said the UN chief, who stressed, "I am not working for a particular country or a particular policy but for the people in the region."

He also reiterated that “nothing can excuse terrorism”.

Ban angered Israeli officials in recent days when he said Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis were a result of "Palestinian frustration".

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reacted angrily to Ban’s statements, saying they “give encouragement to terror.”

A host of Israeli politicians blasted Ban’s remarks as well, including Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and Housing Minister Yoav Galant.

But Ban remained unfazed by the criticism and a day later blasted what he called Israel's "stifling occupation" of Palestinians, making clear he would not retreat from his remarks directed at Israel.

He also subsequently published an op-ed in The New York Times in which he claimed his remarks were twisted “into a misguided justification for violence” but also argued that ignoring growing Palestinian "frustration and grievances" after a near 50-year "occupation" will not make them disappear. 

UN diplomats who spoke to AFP Friday said Ban is hoping to get peace talks moving again before he steps down as UN Secretary-General at the end of the year. The peace process has been deadlocked since an American peace mission collapsed in April 2014.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)