Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General has been accused of “encouraging terror” by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Speaking at the UN Security Council, Mr Ban said it was human nature for oppressed peoples to react to occupation, adding that a recent wave of attacks was driven by a "profound sense of alienation and despair" among some Palestinians.
"Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process," he said. "As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism."
Since October, more than 155 Palestinians and 28 Israelis have died in violence and Mr Ban also criticised the recent stabbings of Israelis by Palestinians.
Israel’s commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state was cast into doubt by its settlement building programme, said Mr Ban.
But Mr Netanyahu called the Palestinians “murderers” who “do not want to build a state.
“They want to destroy a state and they say it out loud," he said in a statement. "They do not murder for peace and they do not murder for human rights.”
He added that “the comments of the UN Secretary General encourage terror. There is no justification for terror."