The top UN official in the Middle East has urged Israel to halt all settlement activity following the latest approval given to new construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, announced on Thursday.
"I condemn today's decision by Israeli authorities to advance plans for over 4,000 housing units in settlements in the occupied West Bank," Tor Wennesland, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said in a statement.
Israel's Higher Planning Council, which approved the move, also retroactively legalized two outposts: Mitzpeh Dani and Givat Oz VeGaon, according to media reports.
Entrenching the occupation
The UN works for the creation of an independent State of Palestine living side-by-side in peace with the State of Israel.
As Special Coordinator, Mr. Wennesland leads political and diplomatic engagement towards a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In condemning the decision, he stated that "continued settlement expansion further entrenches the occupation, encroaches upon Palestinian land and natural resources, and hampers the free movement of the Palestinian population."
The envoy reiterated that all settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to peace.
"I urge the Israeli authorities to cease the advancement of all settlement activity and refrain from such unilateral and provocative actions that fuel instability and undermine the prospects for establishing a viable and contiguous Palestinian State as part of a negotiated two-State solution on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements."