UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon responded to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's election victory with a call Wednesday for the new government to negotiate a final peace agreement that will create "a viable Palestinian state."

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq made clear that the unusually pointed statement reflects the secretary-general's expectation and response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's campaign comments opposing a two-state solution.

He said Ban's call for the new government to create conditions for a negotiated peace deal includes halting "illegal settlement building."

"The secretary-general firmly believes this is also the best and only way forward for Israel to remain a democratic state," Haq said.

He said Ban welcomed the election results and expressed hopes "for the rapid establishment of a new government that reflects the will of all Israeli voters."

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor denied Israel's democracy is threatened.

"The United Nations may disagree with the policies of the Israeli government, but there is one fact that can't be disputed - that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East," Prosor said in a statement, noting that voter turnout in Tuesday's election was 72 percent.

"If the UN is so concerned about the future of the Palestinian people, it should be asking why President (Mahmoud) Abbas is in the tenth year of a five-year presidential term or why Hamas uses the Palestinian people as human shields," Prosor said.