U.N. chief Ban going to Gaza, raps Israel for West Bank building


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, criticized Israel for building in the settlements and condemned “provocations” at holy sites in Jerusalem.

Ban met Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah. The visit came a day after a conference in Cairo at which donor countries pledged some $5.4 billion in aid to the Palestinians to assist with rebuilding in the Gaza Strip.

In a statement issued by the United Nations, Ban said he would visit Gaza on Tuesday “to listen directly to the people of Gaza, survey the situation for myself.”

“While rebuilding is important, we must tackle the root causes of instability. We must give renewed attention to the West Bank,” Ban said in Ramallah. “I once again strongly condemn the continued settlement activity by Israel.”

He called on Israel and the Palestinians to “show courage” and continue engaging in the peace process.

“I am also deeply concerned by repeated provocations at the holy sites in Jerusalem. These only inflame tensions and must stop,” Ban said.

Earlier in the day, Israel Police quelled Arab rioters at the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount and allowed Jewish visitors on the site for the first time in several days.

Later on Monday, Ban was scheduled to meet in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and separately with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

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