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UN chief criticises Israel's settlement plans in West Bank, East Jerusalem

UN chief criticises Israels settlement plans in West Bank, East Jerusalem

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday strongly criticised an Israeli decision to advance settlement plans in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, reiterating that "settlements are illegal under international law".

"The secretary-general strongly criticises the decision by Israeli authorities to advance plans to build some 560 housing units in the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, as well as the advancement of plans to build 240 housing units in a number of settlements in occupied East Jerusalem," Xinhua quoted a statement issued as saying.

"This raises legitimate questions about Israel's long-term intentions, which are compounded by continuing statements of some Israeli ministers calling for the annexation of the West Bank," said the statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to allow the expansion of a West Bank settlement in the wake of the stabbing death of a 13-year-old Israeli-American girl, reports said on Sunday.

The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories they are built on were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

Ban "reiterates that settlements are illegal under international law and urges the government of Israel to halt and reverse such decisions in the interest of peace and a just final status agreement," the statement said.

"The secretary-general is deeply disappointed that this announcement comes only four days after the Middle East Quartet called on Israel to cease its policy of settlement construction and expansion," the statement said.

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