UN chief Antonio Guterres condemned the construction of settlements as “a major obstacle to a just and comprehensive peace”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Israel to “stop and reverse” its decision last week to build nearly 800 new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.
The decision is “a major obstacle to achieving the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace” in the Middle East, Guterres said in a statement Monday.
“The establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law.
“Settlement expansion… further erodes the possibility of ending the occupation and establishing a contiguous and viable sovereign Palestinian state, based on pre-1967 lines,” Guterres said.
Israel on Sunday approved the construction of 780 houses in the occupied West Bank, ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on January 11.
All Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law and by much of the international community.
Last November, Mike Pompeo became the first US Secretary of State to visit a Jewish settlement in an official capacity, months after the United States broke with international law and the consensus of the international community to announce that it no longer saw the settlements as illegal.
There are currently some 450,000 Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, among 2.8 million Palestinians.
Also on Monday, the UK expressed concerns over Israel’s approval of construction of the settlement units, warning that the move could threaten future peace talks and calling for construction to be halted.
“The settlements are illegal under international law and risk compromising the physical viability of the two-state solution. We call for the immediate cessation of construction of these buildings in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank, ”a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.