The United Nations on Monday called on Israel to halt settlement activity after reports surfaced regarding the publication of tenders for 40 new homes in the Efrat settlement, located just outside of Jerusalem in the Gush Etzion bloc.
"Such activity is contrary to international law and the Roadmap, and prejudices final status negotiations," UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon said in a statement his office released to the media.
"These actions by the Government of Israel come at a critical juncture when the Quartet continues efforts to facilitate the resumption of direct negotiations between the parties. For this to succeed, the parties must refrain from provocative actions and help create a positive environment for negotiations," he said.
In his statement he specifically mentioned the 40 Efrat homes and reports of a pending permit for a farming project in Efrat.
Efrat Council head Oded Revivi said that there was nothing new in the report regarding the tenders. Initial authorization for the 40 homes was granted in the spring, he said. It was part of number of authorizations for new settlement homes granted by the government after terrorists infiltrated the Itamar settlement in March and stabbed to death five members of the Fogel family, including three children.
Last week the Lands Authority published tenders for 40 homes in the Givat Dagan neighborhood of Efrat on its web site. Revivi said that Givat Dagan is located with the settlement's boundaries and that it was part of its municipal plans. Sixty families already live in that neighborhood, he said.