UN chief: Continued settlement construction contrary to int'l law

Ban Ki-moon urges Israel to stop all settlement activity, including for natural growth; EU official claims settlements "block" peace efforts.

ban ki moon un chief 248 (photo credit: AP [file])
ban ki moon un chief 248
(photo credit: AP [file])
Two days after Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the construction of 455 news housing units in the West Bank, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday said Israel's plans to continue building in settlements were "contrary to international law." "Such actions and all settlement activity are contrary to international law and the Road Map," AFP quoted a statement released by Ban's bureau as saying. "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," the statement continued. Earlier on Wednesday, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said Israel's continued settlement activity in the West Bank is the main obstacle to a resumption of the Mideast peace process. "We have to be realistic and see that this settlement issue is at the moment an issue that blocks the negotiations," Ferrero-Waldner told reporters. Speaking after meeting with Karen Abu Zayd, the outgoing head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, she said the Quartet leading Mideast peace efforts - the United Nations, EU, Russia and the United States - would meet on the sidelines of the UN General assembly later in September to discuss the issue.