Ban Ki-moon slams Israel's 'settlement buildings'
Progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians requires that Israel freeze its settlement-building in the West Bank, the UN secretary-general said, calling the settlement activities "an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community."
Addressing the U.N. Security Council's periodic Middle East debate, Ban Ki-moon also urged both sides to act now "to prevent the two-state solution from slipping away forever."
He condemned rocket fire from militant groups in Gaza into Israel but focused his strongest comments on Israel's settlement-building.
"As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation," the UN chief said.
Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. Palestinians demand the territory as part of their future state.
Last week, Israel approved the expropriation of some 370 acres (150 hectares) of land in another part of the territory.
Most of the international community views Israeli settlements in the territory as illegal or illegitimate.
The last four months have seen near-daily Palestinian attacks that have killed 25 Israelis and an American student. At least 149 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, about two-thirds of them identified by Israel as attackers.
The rest have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops.
Israel blames the violence on Palestinian incitement. Palestinians say the attacks stem from frustration at nearly five decades of Israeli military rule.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Ban's comments "give a tail wind to terrorism," and he said the UN "long ago lost its neutrality and its moral strength."