The United Nations-supported diplomatic group seeking to promote peace in the Middle East today condemned Israeli moves to expand settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory of East Jerusalem.
Earlier this week, Israel`s Interior Ministry announced that it has approved plans to build 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem.
The Quartet, comprising of the UN, the European Union (EU), the US and Russia, condemns Israel`s decision to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem, " the group said in a statement, agreeing to closely monitor developments in the region.
The Quartet reiterates that Arab-Israeli peace and the establishment of an independent, contiguous and viable state of Palestine is in the fundamental interests of the parties, of all States in the region, and of the international community, " the < href="/News/Press/docs/2010/sg2157.doc.htm">statement read.
The statement called for the urgent resumption of talks between the parties to resolve all outstanding issues of the conflict, including the status of Jerusalem.
The Quartet said it will take full stock of the situation at its meeting in Moscow on 19 March. Yesterday, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that he shared the deep frustrations of Palestinian leaders and of the members of the Arab League over Israel`s plans.
Settlements are illegal, and their expansion violates the Roadmap [which calls for two States " Israel and Palestine " living side by side in peace and security], " Mr. Ban`s spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York on Thursday.
In a separate statement yesterday, the Secretary-General said the Israeli announcement undermines any movement towards a viable peace process. "