United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has condemned Israel’s recent decision to expand its settlement activities in the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
“The Secretary-General strongly criticizes the decision by Israeli authorities to advance plans to build some 560 housing units in the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, as well as the advancement of plans to build 240 housing units in a number of settlements in occupied East Jerusalem,” said Ban’s spokesman in statement released on Monday.
The spokesman noted that such activities raise “legitimate questions” over Tel Aviv’s “long-term intentions” in the West Bank.
On Sunday, an unnamed official announced that the plans had been approved by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (seen below) and the minister of military affairs, Avigdor Liberman.
The announcement came shortly after the release of a report by the Middle East Quartet — which is mediating the so-called peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — that directly called on the Tel Aviv regime to put an end to its settlement expansion activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“The Secretary-General is deeply disappointed that this announcement comes only four days after the Middle East Quartet called on Israel to cease its policy of settlement construction and expansion,” added Ban's spokesperson.
The UN and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.
The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East. Palestinians want the West Bank as part of their future independent state, with East Jerusalem (also known as al-Quds) as its capital.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.