U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday condemned an Israeli decision to build 1,600 homes on occupied Palestinian lands, echoing comments made earlier by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
"The secretary-general condemns the approval of plans for the building of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem by the Israeli Ministry of Interior earlier today," U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a statement, cited by Reuters.
"(Ban) reiterates that settlements are illegal under international law," he said. "Furthermore, he underscores that settlement activity is contrary to Israel's obligations under the Roadmap (peace plan), and undermines any movement towards a viable peace process."
On its part, the Palestinian Authority slammed the Israeli announcement, with Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, warning the move would derail negotiations before they had even begun. "It is apparent that the Israeli government does not want negotiations, nor does it want peace," Abu Rudeineh said, according to the Ma'an news agency. "The American administration must respond to this provocation with effective measures."
Abbas contacted Arab League chief Amr Moussa by phone and urged him to speak with the heads of Arab states over forming a concerted response to the building plan.