Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's insistence that Palestinians want the "ethnic cleansing" of Jews in the West Bank "unacceptable and outrageous."

Ban told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday he wanted to be absolutely clear: "''Settlements are illegal under international law."

Israel's "stifling and oppressive" occupation of Palestinian territory "must end," he said.

Ban said Israel's decades-long policy that has settled over 500,000 Israelis in Palestinian territory "is diametrically opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state."

He added that the international community considers settlement expansion "an obstacle to peace."

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon criticized Ban's "distorted view of the situation," saying "the obstacle to peace starts and ends with Palestinian incitement to terrorism" and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's refusal to meet with Netanyahu.