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UN chief chastises Israel at 'crucial time' in peace process

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• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon urged Israel yesterday to refrain from provocative actions at a "crucial time" in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as a September deadline set for a peace deal fast approaches.

“The target dates for reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on permanent status issues and completing the Palestinian Authority's two-year state-building program are fast-approaching," said Mr. Ban, speaking at a regional UN meeting in Latin America, where support for Palestinian sovereignty runs high. "Yet, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations remain at a worrying standstill.”

Specifically, the UN secretary-general called on Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank, calling its occupation "politically unsustainable." He also urged Israel to ease the blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which Israel has defended as crucial to preventing weapons from flowing into the hands of militants.

“Actions that prejudge the outcome of the process must stop, including Israel's continued settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which is illegal under international law and which contradicts the road map," said Ban. "Demolitions of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and the forced transfer of its Palestinian residents erode trust. … There must also be strong action against incitement or glorification of violent acts.”

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