United Nations, May 16: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has deplored the latest plans to build Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories and urged the new Israeli government to scrap the construction projects.
Ban made the appeal yesterday after the Israeli parliament late Thursday approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new right-wing government, which is facing a crisis over the way forward to make peace with the Palestinians.
The UN chief said he "strongly deplores the advancement of settlement activities on three occasions over the past three consecutive weeks" in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
He pressed the "government of Israel to halt and reverse such decisions in the interest of peace and a just final status agreement." The United Nations has repeatedly called on Israel to halt the construction of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, which it has branded as illegal and a move to erase the prospect of a Palestinian state.
Israel maintains the settlements are not being built on occupied land, but rather on Israeli territory.
"The international community will not recognise unilateral actions on the ground and that the status of Jerusalem can only be resolved through negotiations," Ban said in a statement. Robert Serry, then the outgoing UN envoy for the Middle East, told the UN Security Council in March that the settlements were threatening to "kill the very possibility of reaching peace."
Serry, who has since been replaced by Bulgarian diplomat Nickolay Mladenov, said he did not "know if it is already too late."