Ban Expresses ‘Concern’ Over Jerusalem Building


(JTA) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he is concerned over Israel’s plans to build hundreds of housing units in eastern Jerusalem.

Ban and Netanyahu met Monday night in New York. The leaders also spoke about efforts to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as the decision by a United Nations body to refer to Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs as mosques.

Ban’s spokesperson told the Jerusalem Post that the U.N. leader in his meeting with Netanyahu "expressed concern at the resumption of the settlement activity and recent announcements of further settlement construction in East Jerusalem."

A Jerusalem municipal committee approved the construction of more than 1,000 Jewish homes in eastern Jerusalem. The announcement of the program’s details came Monday, but the official approvals were made several months ago and it will likely take years before the start of construction.

Netanyahu told Ban that Israel would withdraw from the contested Ghajar village, on Israel’s border with Lebanon. The Israeli Cabinet is expected to approve the plan in an upcoming meeting. He also took Ban to task for failing to implement Security Council Resolution 1701, which would disarm Hezbollah.

Netanyahu called on Ban to reverse the recent statement by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization that refers to Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs first as mosques and also calls them an integral part of occupied Palestinian territory.