UN chief slams Israeli settlement expansion in West Bank
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to stop its settlement activities in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.
Speaking at the UN Security Council's periodic Middle East debate, Ban described Israel's settlement activities are "an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community".
The UN chief said that Palestinians are being driven to violence by a "profound sense of alienation and despair".
"Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process," he said.
"As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism."
Most of the international community views Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as illegal, however the country continues to build new settlements.
On Monday, Israel gave the green light for 153 new settler homes to be built in sensitive areas of the occupied West Bank, including the Ariel Carmel and Gush Etzion settlements.
Following Ban's comments, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accused the UN chief of "encouraging terror".
"The comments of the UN Secretary General encourage terror," Netanyahu said in a statement.
"The Palestinian murderers do not want to build a state, they want to destroy a state and they say it out loud," Netanyahu added in the statement.
Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, told reporters that all 15 Security Council members acknowledged that Israel's settlement building is "the main obstacle to any meaningful political process".
Meanwhile, Chinese ambassador Liu Jieyi said the Security Council "should seriously consider the question of providing international protection to the Palestinian people" and called on Israel to take the lead in easing tensions.
The last four months have seen near-daily violence in which at least 149 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, while Palestinian attackers have killed 25 Israelis and an American.
Israel blames the violence on Palestinian incitement. Palestinians say the attacks stem from frustration at nearly five decades of Israeli military rule.
About 400,000 Israeli settlers live in illegal settlements protected by the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank, which is a chief grievance for Palestinians.
Agencies contributed to this report.