UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has condemned Israel’s announcement of 1,600 new housing units on the occupied Palestinian lands.
During a Thursday visit to Moscow, Ban Ki-moon told reporters that he was deeply concerned over developments in the occupied Palestinian territories, and called Israel’s measure "counterproductive" towards a peace process.
Ban strongly condemned Israel’s decision to build new settlement in East Jerusalem (al-Quds) and said that European communities are also against Israeli’s move in occupied Palestinian lands.
"The recent measure by Israeli’s government to expend new settlement of 1,600 new houses is quite counterproductive in this ongoing indirect negotiation between Israeli and Palestinian," Ban said.
The UN Secretary General made similar comments last week saying that "as I have said before, I say again, directly and without equivocation: settlements are illegal under international law."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed international criticism, saying on Monday that his government would keep building in East Jerusalem (al-Quds), as it has done so for the past 42 years.
Palestinian officials view the permanent termination of the settlement constructions as a precondition to peace talks with Israelis.
Las week, Ban also criticized Israel’s on-going blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying it destroys hope of a better life and recovery from last year’s conflict between Hamas and Israel’s army.
"As a policy it is counterproductive. It undercuts moderates and empowers extremists. It destroys legitimate commerce and encourages smuggling. It blocks the road to a peaceful future for both sides in this conflict," he said on March 21.
Ban is on a two-day official visit to Moscow. The UN chief is expected to meet with the Russian leadership, and will also take part in the Middle East Quartet talks taking place on Friday.