Antonio Guterres
Antonio GuterresReuters

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday published a statement with scathing criticism of Israel’s approval of new construction in Judea and Samaria.

Guterres also denounced the retroactive regularization of three outposts adjacent to Eli.

“The Secretary-General reiterates that settlements are a flagrant violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions,” said Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for Guterres.

“He once again urges the Government of Israel to halt and reverse the expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, to immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and to fully respect its legal obligations in that regard,” added Haq.

“Israel's persistent expansion of its settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, deepens humanitarian needs, significantly fuels violence, increases the risk of confrontation, further entrenches the occupation, and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” the statement continued.

“These ongoing settlements are eroding the possibility of establishing a contiguous and viable sovereign Palestinian State, based on the pre-1967 lines, thereby impeding the ability to achieve a viable two-State solution, and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace,” it concluded.

Guterres’ comments came two days after the Civil Administration's Higher Planning Council gave final approval for 818 units, including 359 in Elkana, 381 in Revava, 29 in Givat Ze'ev, 42 in Carmel, and seven in Hermesh.

First stage approvals were granted for 4,915 units including: 1,563 in Eli, 98 in Ariel, 714 in Givat Ze'ev, 340 in Ma'ale Adumim, 312 in Beitar Illit, 310 in Adura, 264 in Etz Efraim, 152 in Ma'ale Amos, and 78 in Asfar (Metzad).

The United States later criticized Israel’s approval of the construction.

Speaking to reporters, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Washington was "deeply troubled" by the move and added that US officials have made clear publicly and privately to Israel their opposition to such moves.

“I will reiterate our longstanding position which we have said publicly from this podium. Privately, we say this directly to Israeli officials — that we believe that settlements are an impediment to a negotiated two-state solution along 1967 lines, which ultimately we believe is the best way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” added Miller.