The UN Secretary General has denounced Israel’s plan for building new settlements as "contrary to international law", calling on Tel Aviv to stop all settlement activities.
In a statement issued on Wednesday to denounce the Israeli approval of the construction of 455 new houses in the West Bank, Ban Ki-moon called on the regime "to stop all settlement activity, including natural growth, and dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001 in the occupied Palestinian territory."
"Such actions and all settlement activity are contrary to international law and the roadmap," the statement said.
Under the 2003 Middle East peace roadmap, Israel is committed to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements in territories occupied in the 1967 war.
Tel Aviv, however, has refused to fulfill its commitment, saying it continues the settlement work to meet natural growth.
"The Secretary-General urges Israel to respond positively to the important efforts under way to create the conditions for effective Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and reiterates his call on Israel to stop all settlement activity, including natural growth, and dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001 in the occupied Palestinian territory," it added.
Israel’s recent approval of settlement construction came in apparent defiance of international calls for a freeze in the activity.
The decision also sparked outrage among the Palestinians, who had conditioned any further talks with Israel on a complete freeze in the construction work.