UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday sharply rejected Israel’s prime minister’s accusation that he encouraged terror by saying it was human nature for oppressed people to react to occupation.
"The Secretary-General stands by every word that he used in the Security Council", UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
"Some have accused Secretary-General of justifying terrorism. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Speaking at a meeting of the Security Council, Ban attributed alleged knife attacks by Palestinian youth to mounting Palestinian frustration and a stalled peace process.
"It is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism," the UN chief said.
His remarks drew stark criticism from the Benjamin Netanyahu, who accused Ban of "encouraging terror". Netanyahu added: "UN lost its neutrality and moral force a long time ago and the secretary-general's remarks do not improve the situation.”
Reacting to these comments, Dujarric noted that Ban had repeatedly said "nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies terrorism".
"[Ban] rejects language that accused him of 'giving terror a tailwind'. Anyone is free to pick and choose what they like or dislike from the Secretary-General's speeches.
“Words can continue to be twisted but the grave reality cannot be obstructed", Dujarric said.
"After nearly 50 years of occupation ... Palestinians, especially young Palestinians, are losing hope. Israelis and Palestinians and the international community need to read the writing on the wall: the status is untenable. It undermines the security of Israelis and future of Palestinians", he added.
Dujarric also reiterated Ban's statements that he condemned "stabbings, vehicle attacks, and shootings by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians", adding that security measures will not be enough to end the violence, and "we must address the root causes, the underlying frustration and failure to achieve a political solution".
Israel insists that an ongoing wave of violence that began last October -- in which more than 160 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli forces after alleged attacks or during protests -- was the result of "incitement" on social media.
Over the same period, 30 Israelis and foreigners have been killed in the violence.