UN chief concerned about Israeli settlements in West Bank

United Nations, June 15 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced deep concern over continued Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, calling it "unhelpful" and a "deeply worrisome trend".

"The secretary-general is deeply concerned by the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank in violation of international law," Xinhua quoted a statement issued by Ban's spokesperson as saying.

"He (Ban) is particularly troubled by reports that planning for hundreds of housing units in the settlement of Itamar, deep into the West Bank, has advanced to the next stage, as is also the case in the outpost of Bruchin," the statement said.

According to reports, Israel is putting forward a plan to build 500 new housing units in the Jewish settlement of Bruchin in the West Bank.

Palestinian officials blamed the move for "destroying US Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to revive peace talks".

"The secretary-general also remains concerned about reported plans for around 1,000 settlement units in East Jerusalem and steps to authorise four illegal settlement outposts deep in the West Bank," the statement said.

These developments are "unhelpful decisions that undermine progress towards the two-state solution," it said.

"They constitute a deeply worrisome trend at a moment of ongoing efforts to re-launch peace negotiations," the statement added.

Peace talks between Israel and Palestine collapsed in 2010 due to Israel's refusal to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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