March 20th, 2010
11:00 PM ET

U.N. chief arrives in Mideast amid settlement row

[10:59 p.m.] United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the West Bank and Jerusalem on Saturday and called for an immediate end to Israeli settlement building. There was no immediate reaction from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

"All settlement activity is illegal anywhere in occupied territory and it must stop," he told reporters in Ramallah.

He called for those involved to make progress toward forging a lasting peace, saying plans for diplomatic discussion between the Israelis and Palestinians through intermediaries are "important," but do not obviate the need for direct negotiations.

"It's high time now that Palestinians and Israelis should be able to live side by side in peace and security," he said. "They can be good partners in working together to achieve peace."

[10:21 a.m.] United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in the West Bank on Saturday as part of a two-day visit to Palestinian territories and Israel amid concerns about Israel's recent announcement to construct settlements in disputed territory.

Ban met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah and said the Middle East Quartet - the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia - "strongly supports" Palestinian efforts to create their own state. Ban said Friday that the group condemns Israel's plans to construction of 1,600 new housing units on territory in East Jerusalem that is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the U.S. special envoy for Middle East peace is returning to the region this weekend as the United States continues its discussions with Israel over the Obama administration's demand that the country reverse its decision on its construction plans.

Ambassador George Mitchell is expected in Jerusalem on Sunday. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has suggested "mutual confidence-building measures" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, according to his office. Netanyahu's response has been unanimously backed and approved by the seven ministers of Israel's inner cabinet.

Officials in Washington and Jerusalem says Netanyahu will be in Washington on Monday for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference.

An Israeli official said the gestures the Israelis could take include easing some roadblocks and releasing some Palestinian prisoners - measures Israel said it was prepared to take before the announcement of the East Jerusalem settlement project. Israel came under fire earlier this month when it announced the construction plans during U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel.

Filed under: Middle East • World
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Joe in hawaii

    Jerusalem should be an international city

    March 21, 2010 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tim Jones

    William, what happens when Isreal says no way ?

    The US will use its veto in the UN to stop any action against Isreal, and so it will go on. Isreal has maintained a military occupation for 30 years and has neuclear weapons in contravention of numerous international laws, without a single sanction by the UN. Do you really think they will just give up Jerusalem ? The US, and its unconditional support for Isreal even when it acts inhumanely and breaches international law, is the source of the problem. Without subsidies, grants and military aid from the US, Isreal would soon agree to a peace settlement based on the existing UN resolutions.

    March 21, 2010 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. Barry

    The Us must keep the pressure on Israel which will help Israel in the long run. It's long past the time for killing and bigotry. America must help Israel see its obligations to all people within the region. If not, cut the billions in aid now.

    March 21, 2010 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. Inspector Gadget

    The U.N. chief apparently doesn't mind the Palestinian territories broadcasting genocidal messages to children on television, advocating the murder of all Jews. Or the violent extremist of a government in control of Gaza right now. Israel really wants that mess right at its heart, right? I know I wouldn't.

    March 21, 2010 at 5:28 am | Report abuse |
  5. LordofEntropy

    Well that would be nice in theory and makes perfect sense. However all three major groups believe that they are the rightful "owners" by mandate of some god. Good luck getting those people to set aside their religious conviction for the sake of what makes sense.

    March 21, 2010 at 6:12 am | Report abuse |
  6. robin

    Why can't we start bombing on Israel? Its violeting all kinds of civil,international,UN laws. Its does not even care US? We bombed on Iraq for no reason and still US soldiers dying there everyday. Now US singing with Israel to bomb on Iran and again US soldiers will die not Israelis to defend Israel,

    March 21, 2010 at 6:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. Scarf

    Marlowe idea is good but take it a step further and move the United Nations out of NY/USA to East Jerusalem. Israel will never relinguish most of Jerusalem so nix that. As far as the settlement issue, USA should just say they will cut off all financial support of Israel if they build any additional settlements. That will get their attention since without the USA huge bucks, they would be dead meat.

    March 21, 2010 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. P Manasse

    Israel must be made aware that the US$ 4 Billion annual contribution by American taxpayers is not to be used to finance the construction of housing and settlements in occupied territories!

    March 21, 2010 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mathew Smith

    Jerusalem is Israel's capital and Israelis are not going to give it up. Why should they? After all, it was Egypt and Jordan whom attacked Israel in the six day war. Before that, east Jerusalem was not even part of Israel, it belonged to Jordan and. Jordan lost East Jerusalem because they launched an unprovoked attack on Israel but were defeated .This is the price of war that countries who instigate it will pay if they lose therefore Palestinians have no legitimate claim to East Jerusalem. It was never theirs to begin with.

    March 21, 2010 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. Rick

    Israel doesn't pay any attention to the UN..Not since the UN authorized what land they got. I'm sick of hearing about Israel and the Palestinians every other day in the news for the last 50 years they have wanted to kill each other. Its time to let them get it on and finish this. I promise you there is no peace process on this planet that these two idiot countries can live by. They wont be happy intil they wipe each other off the planet. So be it.

    March 21, 2010 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. Lawrence

    What Secretary Ki-moon said is encouraging, lets hope the people of Israel and Palestine listen. Lets hope our envoy doesm't go over there and screw things up. The Palestinians I am sure want to finally live in peace as well, and when the envoys go to the peace tables, they don't take guns with them.

    "It's high time now that Palestinians and Israelis should be able to live side by side in peace and security," he said. "They can be good partners in working together to achieve peace." Ki-moon said, and he is right. Israel needs to make concessions too not just the Palestinians. Being forcefull and ignoring the citizens of Palestine wishes is not the way to get along. Like he said isn't it about time to act human toward one another? Israel and rthe east and west banks combined could be a great asset to the entire world. And it could also lead to changes made in Iran, their next door neighbor. There are a lot of Iranian citizens that would go for such a plan.

    March 21, 2010 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tom Joad

    We can no longer afford Israel's shenanigans in the middle east. Israel has no right to spread their settlements at the expense of their neighbors. The US is paying dearly for the misdeeds of our ally and our uneven foreign policy in that region. It's time for Israel and it's neighbors to behave or go it alone. Our oil habit is at the root of all these problems.

    March 21, 2010 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jim

    It would be refreshing if the Palestinians actually bilt something rather than just blowing things up.

    March 21, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. SonOfAbraham

    The last settlement push by Israel was not the first Israeli violation of International Law.

    Israel has been breaking and not responding to the United Nations resolutions for over sixty years.

    Over 500,000 Jews illegally live in the land occupied in the 1967 war.

    All settlements in the occupied land since 5 June 1967 are illegal and should be left intact and given to the Palestinians as a part of a compensation for over 43 years of bloody occupation.

    A minority of extremist strictly orthodox Jews and unholy alliance of fanatical rabbis not to forget the Russian bouncer who is masquerading as a foreign minister in a minority state in the Arab region is leading the world to a disaster. This cannot go on for ever.

    Angry words just do not do it. Presidents and high officials in responsibility do not get angry. They act to relief the anger of the victims of the Israeli’s atrocities, which has been committed for over 60 years. The United States and the International community have to positively act on this.

    If the United States really wanted to stop Israel in its tracks and to play it fair, all it would take is 3 stops:
    Stop the endless funding.
    Stop the endless supply of weapons.
    Stop the blind vetoing in the Security Council.

    March 21, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
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