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Plans for new Israeli settlements stoke concerns

JERUSALEM – The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process on Saturday voiced grave concern at the Israeli Government’s reported plans to advance over 2,300 settlement units, many of them deep inside the West Bank.

“This development is particularly unhelpful against the backdrop of a volatile situation on the ground and as US-led peace negotiations have reached a critical stage,” Robert Serry said in a statement issued in Jerusalem.

He reiterated that settlements are illegal under international law and cannot be reconciled with Israel’s stated intention to pursue a two-State solution.

Senior UN officials have repeatedly stated that settlement plans threaten renewed hopes for Israeli-Palestinian peace, and have stressed the need to avoid actions that negatively impact ongoing peace talks.

Direct talks between the Israeli and Palestinian sides resumed last year, after stalling in 2010 owing to Israel’s refusal to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.

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