Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he is deeply concerned by reports that Israeli authorities have issued tenders for the construction of over 1,400 new housing units in settlements in the West Bank, including in occupied East Jerusalem.
“As the United Nations has reiterated on many occasions, the building of settlements on occupied territory is illegal under international law,” said a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.
Mr. Ban has, on previous occasions, urged on both parties to exercise prudence and to avoid taking unilateral actions on the ground that would further diminish the chances of reaching a negotiated final peace agreement.
“The Secretary-General calls on Israel to heed the calls of the international community to freeze settlement activity and abide by its commitments under international law and the Road Map,” the spokesperson added, referring to the plan which calls for Israel and Palestine to live side by side in peace and within secure borders.
Israelis and Palestinians have been engaged since last August in United States-brokered talks to reach a comprehensive peace agreement, resuming negotiations that had ended in September 2010 when Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.