‘Don’t shoot the messenger,’ Ban fires back at Israeli criticism

EUROPAL Forum

Ban (400 x 219)

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Israeli criticism of attacks on its settlement policy unsustainable in an opinion piece published Sunday by The New York Times, doubling down on comments earlier in the week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said encouraged terrorism.

In the piece entitled, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel,” Ban reiterates many of his earlier comments to Security Council Tuesday, calling Israeli settlement activity “an affront to the Palestinian people,” adding that “it is human nature to resist occupation.”

He also called for a freeze on settlement activity, which most of the international community views Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal or illegitimate.

“Criticism of the United Nations — or attacks against me — comes with the territory. But when heartfelt concerns about shortsighted or morally damaging policies emanate from so many sources, including Israel’s closest friends, it cannot be sustainable to keep lashing out at every well-intentioned critic,” Ban wrote.

Ban’s criticism was sparked by Israel’s recent approval of 150 new homes in settlements on the West Bank.

In the opinion piece, Ban also pointed out that last month Israel declared 370 acres in the West Bank, “state land,” which he said “typically leads to exclusive settler use.”

“In Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, 2016 has begun much as 2015 ended — with unacceptable levels of violence and a polarized public discourse,” Ban began in his piece.

“That polarization showed itself in the halls of the United Nations last week when I pointed out a simple truth: History proves that people will always resist occupation,” he said, restating what he had said in his speech last week.

“The stabbings, vehicle rammings and other attacks by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians are reprehensible. So, too, are the incitement of violence and the glorification of killers. Nothing excuses terrorism.”

According to Ban, his statements last week were an attempt explain the “frustration and grievances” that Palestinians in the West Bank feel, and according to the UN chief, “ignoring this won’t make it go away.”

Ban also criticized Israel’s expanding of “illegal” settlements, saying that this continued policy leads Palestinians to “lose hope on what seems to be a harsh, humiliating and endless occupation.”

He said that a lasting agreement between Israelis and Palestinians will require “difficult compromises by leaders and peoples on both sides,” and said that any agreement must require “significant shifts in policies toward the West Bank and Gaza, while safeguarding Israel’s legitimate security concerns.”