Moscow condemns new Israeli settlement plans

The Russian Foreign Ministry has urged Israel to cancel its new plans to build 900 homes for Jewish settlers in occupied East Jerusalem.

“We have repeatedly stated Russia’s position condemning Israel’s building activities on the occupied Arab territories,” the ministry said in a statement released on Saturday. “Moscow considers such activities as a striving to create new realities in the region and predetermine the outcome of the Palestinian-Israeli talks on the final status.”

Moscow calls on Israel to stop any settlement activities on Palestinian territories, the statement said.

Israel gave the final approval for the construction of 900 new homes in the East Jerusalem settlement neighbourhood of Har Homa on Thursday. The plan was reported to have been on hold for two years.

The announcement sparked international condemnation. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Friday she was “profoundly disappointed” by the Israeli plans, which undermined “trust between the parties and efforts to resume [peace] negotiations.”

A spokesman for the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday Ban was “deeply disappointed” over the new construction plans.

Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are considered illegal under international law. The Palestinians have demanded a complete freeze on all Israeli settlement activity in its land as a precondition to resuming peace talks, which have been stalled since last September.

Russia, along with the United States, the United Nations and the European Union, is part of the Quartet of international mediators of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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