UN chief criticises new Israeli expansion
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern about Israel's intention to speed up settlement construction and urged it not to withhold tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority.
"The secretary-general is deeply concerned at the decisions announced by the government of Israel in response to the decision of UNESCO's General Conference in favour of Palestinian membership," Mr Ban said in a statement yesterday.
The statement reiterated the UN position that settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory is "contrary to international law" and would undermine efforts aimed at resuming the peace talks.
The White House said earlier that it was "deeply disappointed" by the Israeli decision.
The European Union has also criticised Israel's decision to speed up Jewish settlement building and withhold Palestinian Authority funds -- moves likely to further hold up efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Mr Ban urged Israel to "freeze all settlement activity and to continue to transfer VAT and customs revenues that belong to the Palestinian Authority and are essential to enable it to function".