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. Nabeel

    Maybe a settlement can e forced upon the Israelis in the same manner they forced themselves on the Palstinians.

    March 20, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pax101

    Civil dialogue works and leads the way to peace. Let's hope all parties keep that lesson in mind during the peace talks that must continue. It's the only path to take.
    Civility. Respect. Dialogue. @pax101

    March 20, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. William Marlowe

    Jerusalem should become an International city nation state similar to the Vatican City and be governed by the UN instead of Israel or any other nation. There are multiple Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious sites within Jerusalem and that fact alone has been the cause of multiple repeated conflicts and loss of life within the city.

    By removing Jerusalem as part of Israel it removes the opportunity and perception that Israel will one day try to prevent Muslims, or any faith, from entering religious sites within the city. It also removes a major stumbling block regarding disputed territory within the Israeli and Palestinian Authority peace negotiations.

    Similar to the Vatican City, Jerusalem should be recognized as its own nation state that could be governed either by the UN or elected Tribunal made up of an equal number of dedicated UN representatives by all religious faiths with religious sites within the city. This is a Win/Win for everyone involved and promotes peace and harmony in what all three religions consider the most religious city state in the world.

    The Swiss Army could serve as the military and police enforcer within the city just as it does for the Vatican City in an unbiased and impartial way and could be funded and paid for by contributions by all nations within the UN.

    A formal proposal should be presented to the UN by the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, as soon as possible to help kick start future Middle East Peace negotiations in the region.

    March 20, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kanwi

    As long as the Palistinians who really are Jordanese Palistinians ex 1948 era don't renounce terror or the ultimate destruction of Isreal as their goal then there never will be peace so there is noting to negotiate. Thank Islam for all of that. The Jewry were there on the land 2000 years ago 600 years before the Muslims and it is historically theirs. Is the world going to tell the Chinese that Tibet, Xingjiang and Taiwan is not Chinese or do they just want to bully the small kid on the block!!!

    March 20, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hesham El-Mosalamy

    I, 100%, agree with Mr William Marlowe. Jerusalem should be recognized as its own nation. The UN should administer the Jerusalem and enforce the international law as well as controlling different aspects of life.

    March 20, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Larry Gevirtz

    Let London or Berlin become an international city. Jerusalem is the united and eternal capital of Israel, and no proclamation can change that status.

    March 20, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Emirate

    Lets be first upset at UK and USA for creating the state of Isreal. This country did not exist until 1948 (20th century) due to the USA and UK that are being controlled by Zionism. USA and UK always talk about fixing a problem that they first started. Therefore its just talk and will always be talk

    March 20, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. billhoc

    Come On People, Time to put a stop to this madness!

    March 20, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. juan s vazquez

    rergardles of who is right or wrong, i find the UN attitude umbelivable
    why don't the are that strong with IRAN or other comunist radical countries

    March 20, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Deborah

    Jerusalem belongs to the Jews period! Not the so-called Palestinians who are nothing but Arabs anyway. Oh yeah, they want peace with piece at a time. The God of Israel who is not the false God, Allah, gave the land to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their descendents....not Ishmael who the Arabs descended from. Read the Bible, you will find clearly who owns the land deed. The book of Obadiah reveals how all those who come against Israel in the last days will be totally destroyed....actually instead of losing land, Israel's borders will Palestinians will be left. The Day of Lord is fast approaching! Will the world be ready?....I'm afraid not, but all those who trust in the living God will be safe. Israel, you are our inheritance and we love you and I stand in strong support!

    March 20, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jack

    Do your homework, there is no such Palestinians of any kind, name a famous leader, Palestine person in history or any other palestine issue or person of note google it, no such thing, no such Palestine, all made up by arabs who hate jews, ask a historian, Mark Twain, he went to the Holy Land look into what he wrote and about the real history of the Holy Land and the people that did and did not live there, Palestine thing is a LIE. Ask a famous American. ........ Now you will believe ME. And many other historians of the time, I could list them for, but do your own reading and learning, Than form a opinipn based on knowledge.

    March 20, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. E Benedict

    When is enough enough? Enough double talk, enough shenanigans, enough deciet.

    March 21, 2010 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. avite

    This is the real true mission objective of the war in the middle east, it's a peaceful coexistance between Israel and her neighbors, the construction and recognition of Palestine. I am for the quartet's negotiation and hope that peace can come with great expediency through the auspices of the United Nations. This should be the Mission Objective of the United Nations, formed since World War 2. Thank God grown ups are politicking again.
    I believe Jerusalem is an important issue that either side should comprimise on: either by seperation into three parts or two, or that neither side claim it as their own, or that Israel have it but totally respect the Al Aqsa Monument atop the Temple Mount. If they want a new temple, can't another one be rebuilt?

    March 21, 2010 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. peter in asia

    Many statements by many people have been made over the years on this problem,and most if not all have been ignored with impunity by Israel.Concrete steps need to be taken to impove the Palestinians situation.Why could'nt the UN and Gullf states fund the building of Palestinian settlements on their land in the occupied territories,before the Israelis grab it.Security for this could be provided by the UN.Public opiinion around the world is for the Palestinians,why don't the UN and US wake up to this fact?

    March 21, 2010 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  15. JoJo

    I always maintained that while Israel in confronted with the Palestinians for any peace agreements, or returned of any occupied land the odds are very slim that any progress will come out with any dialogue. The Palestinians are divided as it is, diplomaticaly their chances are almost zero, militarily they don't have the weapons they need to confront the Israeli, few rockets that usualy miss their targets, and few find it, either way they are returned with Israeli fire power uncomparable to the Palestinians. Knowing that the Israeli have the upper hand, to built anywhere they wished, not because the US is backing the Israeli but the Israeli don't see a challenger in the area to confront them militarily. The UN can ask the Israeli to stop building settlements, the US can ask the Israeli to build settlements, but the Israeli will not stop to build any because they are not been pressure to do so by the main other player the Palestinians. I am speaking militarily, because it will take a conflict, a very large conflict for this area to lit up and return back to its biblical time. Where than it will be a new start for everyone's concern. Israel has more to lose than the Palestinians. They just need to remember that.

    March 21, 2010 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
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