March 16th, 2010
03:49 PM ET

U.N. chief joins condemnation of Israel's housing plans

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his own call of condemnation Tuesday in response to Israel's recent announcement that it plans to construct new housing settlements in contentious East Jerusalem.

"We are deeply concerned over developments on the ground," the secretary-general told reporters in a brief news conference. "And we condemn the government of Israel's plan for 1,600 new housing units in Jerusalem."

Ban, calling for "restraint and calm by all," reiterated the disapproval expressed by many in the international community following the announcement by Israel last week.

"As I have said before, I say again directly and without equivocation: Settlements are illegal under international law," Ban explained.

Echoing the disapproval expressed last week by the diplomatic coalition known as the Quartet on the Middle East, Ban said Israel's settlement expansion plans have "cast a very negative atmosphere" over the road to peace with the Palestinians.

"This is not desirable. I condemn in my capacity as Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the Quartet as a group also condemns this," he said.

The Quartet is comprised of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair serves as the alliance's current special envoy. Last week the group released a statement after the settlement announcement, condemning "Israel's decision to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem."

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