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UN criticizes Israeli plans to expand settlements

Ban said that ‘settlements are illegal under international law’ and called on the Israeli government to ‘halt and reverse such decisions’

Published: Updated:

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon on Monday denounced Israel’s decision to expand the construction of settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, his spokesman said.

The UN leader is “deeply disappointed” that Israel’s announcement came days after last week’s release of a key report by the Middle East diplomatic quartet -- the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations -- that urged Israel to stop building settlements, Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

“This raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions, which are compounded by continuing statements of some Israeli ministers calling for the annexation of the West Bank,” he added.

Ban said that “settlements are illegal under international law” and called on the Israeli government to “halt and reverse such decisions in the interest of peace and a just final status agreement.”

Israel approved plans to build some 560 new houses in the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, as well as 240 more units throughout occupied East Jerusalem.

The government also pushed forward plans to construct 600 new housing units for Arabs in Beit Safafa, a Palestinian quarter of Jerusalem, Israeli media reported.