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UN chief chastises Israel at 'crucial time' in peace process

At a UN regional meeting in Uruguay, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel to cease settlement building and avoid provocative actions ahead of the September deadline for a peace deal.

By Taylor BarnesCorrespondent / March 30, 2011



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United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon urged Israel yesterday to refrain from provocative actions at a "crucial time" in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as a September deadline set for a peace deal fast approaches.

“The target dates for reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on permanent status issues and completing the Palestinian Authority's two-year state-building program are fast-approaching," said Mr. Ban, speaking at a regional UN meeting in Latin America, where support for Palestinian sovereignty runs high. "Yet, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations remain at a worrying standstill.”

Specifically, the UN secretary-general called on Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank, calling its occupation "politically unsustainable." He also urged Israel to ease the blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which Israel has defended as crucial to preventing weapons from flowing into the hands of militants.

“Actions that prejudge the outcome of the process must stop, including Israel's continued settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which is illegal under international law and which contradicts the road map," said Ban. "Demolitions of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and the forced transfer of its Palestinian residents erode trust. … There must also be strong action against incitement or glorification of violent acts.”

Israel and Gaza militants have been engaged in a nearly two-week spate of violent clashes along the border that mark the worst violence since the 2009 Gaza war – and herald, some say, another conflict.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed that it killed a Palestinian gunman and injured another on a motorcycle in a strike today on the Gaza Strip. The IDF said the men had launched a short-range rocket across the border into Israel Tuesday.

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