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      Israeli Construction a Blow to Peace, Says UN Chief

      UN Secretary General warns that Israel’s plan to build new Jewish homes is an "almost fatal blow" to any prospects for peace.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 12/3/2012, 1:44 AM

      Ban Ki-Moon
      Ban Ki-Moon
      AFP photo

      United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned Sunday against Israel’s plan to build new homes in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, calling it an "almost fatal blow" to any prospects for peace.

      On Friday, Israel’s forum of nine senior ministers approved the construction of 3,000 housing units in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

      In addition, the nine ministers decided to promote the building of thousands of housing units in Jerusalem and in the so-called ‘settlement blocs’, including the area known as E1 which connects Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, a long-standing request.

      The decision came less than 24 hours after the United Nations voted in favor of the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral move to upgrade its UN status to that of a non-member observer state. Israel had warned it would take action if the PA went ahead with its move.

      "It was with grave concern and disappointment that the secretary general learned of Israel's announcement of 3,000 new settlement units in east Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria –ed.)," a statement from Ban's spokesman said, according to an AFP report.

      "This would include reported planning in the so-called E1 envelope, which risks completely cutting off east Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank," the statement said.

      "Settlements are illegal under international law and, should the E1 settlement be constructed, it would represent an almost fatal blow to remaining chances of securing a two-state solution."

      "The secretary general repeats his call on all concerned to resume negotiations and intensify efforts towards a comprehensive, just and lasting peace and urges the parties to refrain from provocative actions," Ban's statement said.

      Earlier on Sunday, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that Israel will not transfer the funds it collects for the PA this month in response to the PA's successful bid for upgraded UN status.

      "I have no intention of transferring the taxes due to the Palestinian Authority this month. They will be used to pay the Palestinian Authority's debts to the Israeli electricity company," he said.

      Speaking ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting, the finance minister stressed his decision comes after "the raising of the status of Palestine at the UN."

      PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas promised on Sunday that someday the PA flag would fly over “Jerusalem, eternal capital of the state of Palestine.”

      Thousands of people greeted Abbas rapturously upon his return from the United Nations.

      "Raise your heads high, because you are Palestinians!” Abbas told the joyous crowd, waving PA flags in the PA capital of Ramallah.

      "You have proof that you are stronger than the occupation, because you are Palestinians... stronger than the settlements, because you are Palestinians,” he added.