5 April 2011 – A top United Nations envoy today called on Israel to halt further planning for new settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory in the wake of the Government's approval of more Jewish housing units for a neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.
Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), reiterated that such activity anywhere in occupied territory is illegal, according to a statement issued by his office.
It is also contrary to the Road Map peace plan espoused by the diplomatic Quartet – comprising the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States – which seeks to establish a two-State solution of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, he said.
On Monday Israel approved the construction of 942 homes in Gilo, a neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.
Mr. Serry called on the Israeli Government to halt such activity, which undermines efforts to bring about resumed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and prejudices final status discussions.
Senior UN officials have been calling for months now for an end to the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which have been stalled since late September following Israel's refusal to extend a 10-month freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.
That decision prompted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which had only resumed a few weeks earlier after a two-year hiatus.