By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to translate into action his commitment to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, including halting settlement construction.
Netanyahu took a stand against Palestinian statehood during his election campaign earlier this year, but has since committed to a two-state solution. Palestinians seek a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967.
"Secretary-General (Ban Ki-moon) is encouraged by the recent reaffirmations by Prime Minister Netanyahu of his commitment to 'the idea of a sustainable two-state solution' but notes this must be translated into actions," U.N. political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday.
Feltman said Israel needed to stop "sensitive and unilateral" activities such as settlements. The United Nations and most countries consider settlements that Israel has built on territory captured in 1967 as illegal.
U.S.-brokered peace talks broke off in April 2014, with disputes raging over Israeli settlement-building and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's unity deal with Hamas Islamists, who do not recognize Israel's right to exist.
Earlier this month Netanyahu blamed the Palestinians for a 14-month impasse in peace negotiations but said he felt there was a chance to renew them if the Palestinians could be persuaded, possibly by the Arab states.
France is pushing for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to be relaunched through an international support group comprising Arab states, the European Union and U.N. Security Council members.
But Netanyahu criticized the initiative on Sunday, accusing foreign powers of trying to dictate terms to Israel for a deal with the Palestinians.
U.N. investigators said on Monday that Israel and Palestinian militant groups committed grave abuses of international humanitarian law during a 2014 Gaza conflict that may amount to war crimes.
"It is our hope that (the report) will contribute to bringing justice to victims of last year's war and encourage the parties to engage in serious and credible examinations of their own behavior," Feltman said.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Andrew Hay)