UN urges Israel to change settlement policies
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — The UN Security Council on Monday kicked off a debate on how to revive the stalled Middle East peace process, with a call on Israel to change its policy of building settlements in the Palestinian territories.
"The time has come for Israel to fundamentally change its policies in this regard as it has repeatedly promised to do," UN chief Ban Ki-moon told the ministerial session called by Russia in its capacity as chair of the 15-member body this month.
Ban said the Palestinians "continue to see unacceptable unilateral actions in East Jerusalem and the remainder of the West Bank -- house demolitions, intensified settlement activity, settler violence, and oppressive movement restrictions due to permits, checkpoints, and the barrier, which are intimately connected to settlements."
The UN boss also slammed Israel's "continued closure" of the Gaza Strip, saying it "does not weaken Israel's adversaries in Gaza, but does untold damage to the fabric of civilian life."
He noted that four months after Israel's punishing offensive in Gaza to stop rocket attacks on its territory, "we cannot get anything beyond food and medicine into Gaza to assist a population that had been in the midst of a war zone. This is completely unacceptable." source
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