Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of "encouraging terror".
Referring to the Palestinians, Mr Ban said it was human nature for oppressed peoples to react to occupation.
Speaking at the UN Security Council, Mr Ban also condemned recent stabbings of Israelis by Palestinians.
More than 155 Palestinians, 28 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean have died in violence since October.
"The comments of the UN secretary general encourage terror," Mr Netanyahu said in a statement. "There is no justification for terror."
So cautious in his use of language for so long, Mr Ban seems determined to speak more plainly as he prepares to leave office, says the BBC's Nick Bryant in New York.
So? Is it human nature for oppressed people to react to occupation?
Or is Netanyahu correct, that Ki-Moon is motivating people to resort to terrorism?
How would you act if you were occupied and treated as a second rate citizen? Would you resort to violence?
History seems to be on Ki-Moon's side on this one, anyways...