Hanan Ashrawi
Hanan AshrawiIssam Rimawi/Flash 90

A senior official from the Palestine Liberation Organization on Wednesday denounced Israel’s plans to build new homes in Beit El and Jerusalem as "war crimes".

"These settlement measures and war crimes are part of a plan by Israeli leaders to impose a 'Greater Israel' on historic Palestine and destroy the two-state solution and the chance for peace," the official, Hanan Ashrawi, said, according to the AFP news agency.

The statement came after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had earlier approved the "immediate" construction of the 300 homes in Beit El and planning for another 504 homes in Jerusalem.

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.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the construction approval, saying 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."

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

Later on Wednesday, the European Union (EU) denounced the construction plans and said they “call into question the Israeli government's stated commitment to a negotiated two-state solution in the Middle East Peace Process.”

“Moreover, the governmental plans to consider the approval of unauthorized outposts across the West Bank would further undermine the practical possibility of implementing the two-state solution. The EU expects the Israeli government to demonstrate its commitment to the two-state solution not only in words, but also through its actions,” the EU said in a statement, adding that “all settlements are illegal under international law”.