Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moonReuters

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday criticized the Israeli government's decision to approve the construction of 560 housing units in Maale Adumim, as well as the advancement of plans to build 240 housing units in Jerusalem.

A statement by Ban's spokesman said he “strongly criticizes” the Israeli decision, adding it “raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions, which are compounded by continuing statements of some Israeli ministers calling for the annexation of the West Bank.”

The UN chief also reiterated that “settlements are illegal under international law” and urged the Israeli government “to halt and reverse such decisions in the interest of peace and a just final status agreement.”

“The Secretary-General is deeply disappointed that this announcement comes only four days after the Middle East Quartet called on Israel to cease its policy of settlement construction and expansion,” said the statement.

The announcement of the construction was made on Sunday, following yet another wave of deadly terrorist attacks against Israelis in Judea and Samaria.

Ban's condemnation comes three days after the Middle East Quartet released its report which called on Israel to stop its construction in Judea and Samaria, but also criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) for its incitement to terrorism against Israelis.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reacted to the report on Friday by rejecting its equating between PA incitement to terrorism and Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria, though he did welcome its recognition of the dangers of PA incitement.