"The U.N. Secretary General's remarks give a tailwind to terrorism. There is no justification for terrorism," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a statement.
The remarks that prompted Netanyahu's scathing comments were made at a U.N. Security Council meeting Tuesday morning that addressed "the Palestinian question."
Ban, speaking with more candor than he has be known to use, condemned Israel's "settlement enterprise" in the West Bank, calling them "provocative acts" that "rightly raise fundamental questions about Israel's commitment to a two-state solution."
The enterprise he was referring to were Israel's policies in areas of the West Bank that is home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and in particular, reports that Israel approved plans for 150 new homes in "illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank" on Tuesday and claiming another 370 acres of land last week, Ban said.
"As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism," Ban said. "So-called facts on the ground in the occupied West Bank are steadily chipping away the viability of a Palestinian state and the ability of Palestinian people to live in dignity."
Netanyahu, ambassador question U.N. neutrality
Netanyahu's representative at the United Nations took his Prime Minister's comments one step further, saying that Ban promotes terrorism.
"The secretary general encourages terror instead of fighting against terror," Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement. "The secretary general forgot what the U.N.'s role is. Terror must not be encouraged for any reason whatsoever."
Yair Lapid, a member of Israel's Knesset, also condemned the secretary general.
"Terrorism against innocent civilians can not be justified; no one should provide excuses for it," Lapid said." No one, especially not the U.N. secretary general, should say that terrorism is the result of something. Terrorism against innocent civilians is the result of nothing except the murderous insanity of the perpetrators."
During his speech, Ban condemned attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, as well as the "continuing rocket fire into Israel from militant groups in Gaza," adding that Israel's security concerns must be addressed.
"Stabbings, vehicle attacks and shootings by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians -- all of which I condemn -- and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces have continued to claim lives," Ban said.
"The Palestinian murderers do not want to build a state. They want to destroy a state, and they say this openly. They want to murder Jews simply because they are Jews, and they say this openly. They do not murder for peace, and they do not murder for human rights," Netanyahu said in his statement following the meeting, adding that he believed the United Nations lost its neutrality "a long time ago."
On Monday, two Palestinian men were shot and killed after they stabbed two Israeli women outside a supermarket in the West Bank settlement of Beit Horon, according to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
"As we continue to uphold the right of Palestinians to self-determination, let us be equally firm that incitement has no place, and that questioning the right of Israel to exist cannot be tolerated," Ban told the security council.
'Failure is not an option'
The Palestinian permanent observer at the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, read a statement from Riad Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister, at Tuesday's security council meeting, which called on the council for action, including passing resolutions that specifically call for the "protection of the Palestinian people" and fulfilling its responsibilities of ending the occupation.
"It is time for the security council to reflect the expressed will of its members and the international community it is mandated to represent," the statement said. "Excuses, mild positions and half measures will not suffice. The international will is being tested, and failure is not an option."
At the end of his speech, Ban held out hope that peace between Israelis and Palestinians can be an example for the rest of the region.
"As the wider Middle East continues to be gripped by a relentless wave of extremist terror, Israelis and Palestinians have an opportunity to restore hope to a region torn apart by intolerance and cruelty," Ban said. "I urge them to accept this historic challenge in the mutual interest of peace."