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Ban ‘deeply troubled’ by Israel’s approval of West Bank outposts

West Bank Israeli settlement of Har Gilo, located near Jerusalem.
IRIN/Erica Silverman
West Bank Israeli settlement of Har Gilo, located near Jerusalem.

Ban ‘deeply troubled’ by Israel’s approval of West Bank outposts

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said he was “deeply troubled” by Israel’s decision to formally approve three outposts in the West Bank, describing the action as illegal under international law.

According to a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban reiterated that “all settlement activity is illegal under international law” and that “it runs contrary to Israel’s obligations under the Road Map and repeated Quartet calls for the parties to refrain from provocations.”

The approved outposts by Israeli authorities are Bruchin and Rechelim in the northern part of the West Bank, and Sansana in the south.

“The Secretary-General is disappointed that such a decision comes at a time of renewed efforts to restart dialogue,” the statement said.

Earlier this month, members of the so-called Quartet – the diplomatic grouping bringing together the UN with the European Union, Russia and the United States – had urged both Israel and the Palestinians to avoid actions that undermine trust between them and expressed concern about unilateral and provocative actions by either party, including continued settlement activity.

The Quartet had also encouraged the Palestinian Authority (PA) to continue its institution-building efforts and had called on the international community to ensure that the $1.1 billion contribution to meet the PA’s recurrent financing requirements this year is available.

The Israelis and the Palestinians have yet to resume direct negotiations since talks stalled in September 2010, after Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Negotiators from both sides began preparatory talks at the start of January in Amman, under the facilitation of King Abdullah II of Jordan and that country’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh, with a view to a resumption of direct talks.

Negotiators met again in Amman in early April and agreed to an exchange of letters outlining their positions. Both President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have since continued to reiterate their desire to negotiate.