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UN chief hits back at Israel's criticism of settlement remarks

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon has described Israel's criticism of attacks on its settlements policy as unsustainable.

The world body chief's opinion piece in the New York Times followed earlier comments that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said encouraged terrorism.

In the article, entitled Don't Shoot The Messenger, Israel, Mr Ban reiterates many of his earlier comments, calling Israeli settlement activity "an affront to the Palestinian people" and adding that "it is human nature to resist occupation". He also calls for a freeze on settlement activity.

"Criticism of the United Nations - or attacks against me - comes with the territory. But when heartfelt concerns about shortsighted or morally damaging policies emanate from so many sources, including Israel's closest friends, it cannot be sustainable to keep lashing out at every well-intentioned critic," he wrote.

Mr Ban said he would always stand up for Israel's right to exist, but added: "The time has come for Israelis, Palestinians and the international community to read the writing on the wall: The status quo is untenable. Keeping another people under indefinite occupation undermines the security and the future of both Israelis and Palestinians."

Mr Ban's criticism was sparked by Israel's recent approval of 150 new homes in settlements on the West Bank.

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