UN's Ban Rejects Netanyahu's Criticism: Count on Me to Speak Up

After causing storm in comments that Netanyahu said justify terror, UN says Ban stands by statement, with Ban adding that Palestinians watch as settlements 'expand and expand.'

UN Sec.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, Oct. 20, 2015.
UN Sec.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, Oct. 20, 2015. AP

The United Nations says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stands by every word of his criticism of Israeli settlement-building this week and rejects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comment that the remarks justify terrorism.

The UN chief on Tuesday told the Security Council that settlement activities are "an affront to the Palestinian people," and he called for Israel to freeze them. He also said "it is human nature to react to occupation."

Ban spoke out again Wednesday, telling a General Assembly committee that the Palestinians "watch as Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, expand and expand."

The UN chief, who is in the final year of his term, also said that "you can count on me to speak up" to help achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

His original comments sparked anger in Israel, with Netanyahu saying "the UN secretary general's comments give terror a tailwind. There is no justification for terror."

The prime minister added: "The UN has long lost its neutrality and moral power, these comments by the secretary general do little to improve its standing."