Israel is under fire from the United Nations over a planned new settlement in the West Bank.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called it “provocative acts” that raise questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution, Reuters reports.
This comes amid growing Palestinian frustration over nearly 50 years of occupation.
The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war.
The last round of peace talks broke down in April 2014, and Israeli-Palestinian violence has surged in recent months.
Israel confirmed on Thursday that it would appropriate a large tract of fertile land in the occupied West Bank.
The land is near Jordan in an area where Israel already has many settlement farms built on land Palestinians seek for a state.
Ban said he is “deeply troubled” by reports that the Israeli government had approved plans for more than 150 new homes in “illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank”.
“These provocative acts are bound to increase the growth of settler populations, further heighten tensions and undermine any prospects for a political road ahead,” Ban told a United Nations Security Council meeting on the Middle East.
“Continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community,” he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed Ban’s remarks, saying they only “bolster terrorism”.
“The Palestinian murderers do not want to build a state; they declare publicly that they want to destroy a state,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
“The UN has long ago lost its neutrality and its moral powers.”
US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said Washington is strongly opposed to settlement activity.
“Steps aimed at advancing the Israeli settlement program … are fundamentally incompatible with the two-state solution and raise legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions,” Power told the council.
About 550,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Israeli government and think-tank statistics.
About 350,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem and 2.7 million in West Bank.
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