JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is "morally and politically unsustainable, and must end," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
In a speech delivered Wednesday in Uruguay by his assistant, Ban also praised the Palestinian Authority’s state-building program and criticized Israel for continued settlement building, according to reports.
“Time is of the essence in realizing the two-state solution," Ban said. "The occupation that started in 1967 is morally and politically unsustainable, and must end. The Palestinians have a legitimate right to the establishment of an independent and viable state of their own.
"The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations remain at a worrying standstill. We must intensify efforts to break the deadlock.”
Ban called on Israel to ease its blockade on Gaza. He also condemned rocket fire from Gaza on Israel and the bombing of a bus stop in central Jerusalem, which killed a British tourist.
The U.N. Latin American and Caribbean Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace also was set to discuss the recent recognition of Palestinian statehood by several Latin American governments, Jerusalem and settlement expansion, according to reports.
Meanwhile, Israel reportedly told the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council and several other European Union countries that if the Palestinian Authority seeks a unilateral declaration of statehood through the United Nations in September, as it has threatened, Israel will respond with its own unilateral steps, including annexing some major settlement blocks or applying Israeli law to the West Bank, Haaretz reported.
Israel has said also that it would not hold any peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority if unity talks between the Fatah Party of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas are successful.
"I have one thing to say to them — you can’t have a peace agreement with Israel and the Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday.