UN's Ban calls out Netanyahu's 'outrageous' claims over settlements
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday said it was "unacceptable and outrageous" for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to claim that opposition to settlement building was equivalent to ethnic cleansing.
Netanyahu said in a video last week that Palestinians were trying to pursue a state with "no Jews" and that this was effectively a call for race extermination.
"I am disturbed by a recent statement by Israel's prime minister portraying those who oppose settlement expansion as supporters of ethnic cleansing," Ban said.
"This is unacceptable and outrageous."
Speaking during a Security Council meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ban spoke candidly about Israel's illegal settlement programme.
"Let me be absolutely clear: settlements are illegal under international law. The occupation, stifling and oppressive, must end," he said.
Ban used Israeli data to show that construction on settlements since April was at its highest level in three years.
Israel's Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, ordered employees and military officials to boycott Bulgarian envoy to the UN, Nickolay Mladenov, after he made criticisms against Israel's settlement policies.This month's revolving Security Council president, Murray McCully, New Zealand's Foreign Minister, said Lieberman's decision was "deeply counter-productive".