Outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday condemned an Israeli bill seeking to legalize West Bank outposts, while at the same time acknowledging his organization’s bias against the Jewish state.
Ban addressed the Security Council Friday on the situation in the Middle East, just weeks before he steps down after a decade as head of the international body. He focused his discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, whose resolution “can create momentum for peace throughout the region.”
The secretary-general railed against a bill currently supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition that seeks to “regularize” illegal West Bank outposts retroactively. The bill sought to prevent the evacuation of the West Bank outpost of Amona, set for demolition in the coming week, but passed a first reading in the Knesset last week without a clause that would ensure its recognition for Amona and effectively overturn a high court ruling.
Settlement watchdog Peace Now says the Regulation Bill will legalize 55 outposts and 4,000 housing units in existing Jewish outposts and settlements in the West Bank, cast over some 8,000 dunams (3 square miles) of privately-owned Palestinian plots.
Ban said that if the bill is passed by the Knesset, it “would for the first time apply Israeli law on the status of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank” in clear violation of international law.
“I strongly urge legislators to reconsider advancing this bill, which will have negative legal consequences for Israel and substantially diminish the chances for Arab-Israeli peace,” he said.
The South Korean secretary-general called for Palestinian unity, an end to Palestinian terrorism and incitement to violence, and a halt to Israeli settlement construction if the two-state solution were to yield fruit.
“The framework for peace remains unchanged: the establishment of two states, on the basis of the principle of land for peace, and a just and comprehensive regional peace consistent with relevant Security Council resolutions as well as with existing agreements signed between the parties,” he said.
Ban didn’t refrain from acknowledging and criticizing his own organization’s bias against Israel in recent years.
“Decades of political maneuverings have created a disproportionate volume of resolutions, reports and conferences criticizing Israel,” he said. “In many cases, rather than helping the Palestinian cause, this reality has hampered the ability of the UN to fulfill its role effectively.”
“At the same time, Israel must realize that the reality in which a democratic state, governed by the rule of law, keeps the Palestinian people under military occupation will continue to generate criticism and calls for accountability.”
Ban called on the Security Council to issue a commitment to the two-state solution, saying “the status quo entrenches a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict.”
“We must not give up on the right of Palestine to exist, just as we must protect the right of Israel to exist in peace and security with its neighbors,” he said.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon responded to Ban’s remarks by sniping at the United Nations.
“The Secretary-General admitted the clear truth, the UN’s hypocrisy towards Israel has broken records over the past decade,” Danon said in a statement. “During this time the UN passed 223 resolutions condemning Israel while only eight resolutions condemning the Syrian regime as it has massacred its citizens over the past six years. This is absurd.”
He said he hoped incoming UN secretary-general António Guterres works to change that bias.