UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Reuters

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday condemned Israel's approval of 300 new homes in Samaria and called on the government to reverse its decision.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu approved the "immediate" construction of the 300 homes in Beit El and planning for another 504 homes in Jerusalem, his office said.

Ban reiterated that "settlements are illegal under international law, an impediment to peace and cannot be reconciled" with Israel's "stated intention to pursue a two-state solution," his spokesman said in a statement released in New York.

Ban urged Israel "to halt and reverse such decisions in the interest of peace" his spokesman said.

The UN secretary general also expressed concern about the threat of demolitions in the village of Susiya ahead of an August court

"The destruction of private property in occupied territory is prohibited under international humanitarian law, and for which actions there must be accountability," his spokesman said.

The statements follow a media and political storm over the destruction of the Draynoff housing units in Beit El, which involved an unprecedented number of police officers descending on the Samaria town and clashing with its residents. Several reports of police brutality at the scene surfaced before, and during, the demolition. 

The 300 units approved Wednesday were promised by the Israeli government three years ago after the relocation of the Ulpana houses in Beit El, but Netanyahu publicly denied intending to fulfill that promise earlier this month. Netanyahu's renewed assurance to build the structures is widely seen as direct compensation for the Draynoff saga. 

AFP contributed to this report.