UN's Ban Calls Netanyahu's 'Ethnic Cleansing' Video 'Unacceptable and Outrageous'

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks about Iran's role in the fight against terrorism and ISIS during an interview in New York Sept. 18, 2014.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks about Iran's role in the fight against terrorism and ISIS during an interview in New York Sept. 18, 2014. Credit: Jim Lee, Bloomberg

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon severely criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday over a video posted by the PM on Facebook last week in which he equated the eviction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank to ethnic cleansing.

Netanyahu's remark was "unacceptable and outrageous," Ban said during a meeting of the Security Council discussing the Middle East, adding that the settlements are in violation of international law and that their expansion must stop. The settlements are an obstacle to peace, the UN chief added. 

Last Friday, Netanyahu accused the Palestinian leadership of wanting to ethnically cleanse the future Palestinian state of Jews in an English-language video message posted on his Facebook page. Israel shows that it is ready for peace, Netanyahu said, while a Palestinian state with the precondition of no Jews amounts to ethnic cleansing.

Ban also wished a speedy recovery to former President Shimon Peres, who he described as working relentlessly for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He noted that 23 years to the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO have elapsed a few days ago, but that the two-state solution was more distant than ever before. The two-state solution is in danger of being replaced with a one-state reality, Ban said, adding that both sides refuse to take the necessary steps for peace, despite the international community's warnings. 

Ban also condemned rocket fire toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, and criticized the Palestinian Authority for incitement against Israel and for its hero-worship of terrorists. The Palestinian Authority must put an end to this shameful behavior, Ban said.  

Also in the Security Council meeting, New Zealand's foreign minister, Murray McCully, who is the Council's current president, said that he was "appalled" by reports that Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has decided to boycott UN Envoy to the Middle East Nikolay Mladenov. McCully noted that the boycott was reportedly announced only because Mladenov did the job he was tasked with by the Council. Lieberman's boycott was a "counterproductive decision," he said. 

The Security Council meeting on the Middle East was originally set to be closed to the media, but Western diplomats told Haaretz that McCully asked to open some of the meeting to the media due to reports that Lieberman has instructed ministry employees and military officials to boycott Mladenov, first reported by Channel 2 on Wednesday. The diplomats noted that McCully wanted to allow a public debate in which the representatives of the different nations could come to Mladenov's defense.  

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