Ban speaks out against Israeli plans to expand settlements

Sheep drinking from water troughs in the desert. The green trees of the Israeli settlement of Karmel are in the background. Photo: UNRWA

10 March 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has repeatedly called for Israel’s settlement construction to come to a halt, has condemned its announcement that it is building 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem.

“He reiterates that settlements are illegal under international law,” according to a statement by his spokesperson issued last night in New York.

“Furthermore, he underscores that settlement activity is contrary to Israel’s obligations under the Roadmap, and undermines any movement towards a viable peace process,” it added.

The Roadmap, endorsed by the diplomatic Quartet comprising the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia, calls for two States – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security.

Yesterday, Israel’s Interior Ministry announced that it has approved plans to build 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem.

“Unfortunately, the decisions that have been taken in the past few days are not helpful… to build a climate of trust,” Filippo Grandi, the new Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), told reporters in New York today.

The Secretary-General noted last month that while Israel’s efforts and willingness to resume peace talks are welcome, returning to negotiations is hampered by developments on the ground, including continued settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory.

“At this crucial juncture, Israel should refrain from taking steps which have the potential to prejudge negotiations and create tensions,” especially in East Jerusalem, where settlements are expanding and Palestinians are being evicted, he stressed in a message to the UN-backed International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace held in Qawra, Malta.


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