UN chief asks Israel to free Palestinian funds

November 22, 2011 - 9:15 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is appealing to Israel's prime minister to immediately resume the transfer of Palestinian tax and customs revenue to the Palestinians.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Ban also told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a phone conversation Tuesday that Israel's new settlement building, including in East Jerusalem, undermines efforts to resume direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and violates international law.

The U.N. chief stressed the need to de-escalate the current situation and create an environment conducive to reviving the peace process, he said.

Israel announced the new construction and suspended the payments — totaling some $100 million that it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority — after the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization voted to grant Palestine full membership last month.