Israel declares Hebron an official Jewish settlement

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Tanya Mozias Slavin

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Reiterating his commitment to fighting anti-Semitism, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he is committed to protecting Israel and its right to exist.

Netanyahu accused Iran of building the production sites two weeks after an Israeli television report showed satellite images it said were of a facility Tehran was constructing in northwest Syria to manufacture long-range rockets.

Guterres noted the United Nations charter values impartiality. "I understand the security concerns of Israel and I repeat that the idea or the intention or the will to destroy the state of Israel is something totally unacceptable from my perspective", Guterres said.

When asked about the anti-Semitism in the UN, Guterres said that he knows that Israel occasionally receives unequal treatment.

Well over 100 settlements dot the West Bank and a string of US -led peace plans over the past two decades have called for evacuating at least some of them to make way for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Through Hezbollah and other proxies, Iran has been extending its influence and its reach in the region and, according to Israeli officials, is working to provide Hezbollah with more precise weapons to hit valuable targets in its next war against Israel.

Earlier on Monday, Guterres visited a Holocaust Museum and met with the Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, saying that calls for the annihilation on the Jewish state were a "form of modern anti-Semitism".

Israel law says the prime minister can only be removed by parliament, though the Supreme Court has since ruled that government ministers and mayors had to resign if indicted.

The Palestinians say that settlements on occupied lands are illegal and undermine the goal of a two-state solution by gobbling up territory they seek - a position that is widely backed by the global community.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is visiting Turkey and is not expected to meet Guterres during the trip. "We will be sure to defend ourselves with all means against this and any threat", he said.

Guterres will then travel to the Gaza Strip tomorrow.

"I have a dream, a dream to see in the Holy Land two states: A Palestinian state and an Israeli State, living together in peace and security, in mutual recognition and allowing for this kind of suffering not to be possible anymore", the Secretary-General stated. "I know that this is a big undertaking, and that the Secretary-General has no power over the member states, but I believe that your leadership can be meaningful, you can make an important change", he said.

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