WASHINGTON – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday called on Israel and the Palestinians to practice restraint in light of the violent clashes which have erupted in Jerusalem as part of the "day of rage" declared by the Palestinians.
Ban, who is expected to arrive in Israel on Saturday, stressed the international stand that "the status of Jerusalem is a subject of final negotiation."
Talking to reporters at the UN headquarters in New York, Ban reiterated his deep concern over the developments in east Jerusalem and repeated his condemnation of the Israeli plan to build 1,600 housing units in east Jerusalem.
He clarified that he does not distinguish between east Jerusalem and the West Bank, which are considered occupied territories according to international law: "As I have said before, I say again, directly and without equivocation: settlements are illegal under international law."
Dozens of people were injured Tuesday as Arabs clashed with security forces in several places in the capital, including 14 police officers who sustained light wounds. A policeman was lightly wounded on Tuesday evening after being shot at in the neighborhood of Ras al-Amud.
Ban, who is expected to visit Gaza on Sunday, used the opportunity to attack Israel over its policy towards the Strip.
"The Israeli policy of closure destroys hope – hope of a better life for all people, hope for recovery from the destruction and pain of the recent war," he stated, claiming that this policy was counterproductive.
"It undercuts moderates and empowers extremists. It destroys legitimate commerce and encourages smuggling. It blocks the road to a peaceful future for both sides in this conflict," he said.