JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, July 2 (UPI) -- A decision by Israel to extend its settlement activity into the West Bank raises new and serious concerns, the Organization of the Islamic Conference says.
The Israeli government announced plans earlier this week to move ahead with the construction of 50 new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
U.S. President Obama had raised the issue as a precondition to moving forward with peace talks concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying Israel should halt all settlement activity.
In a June speech, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the first time endorsed the establishment of a Palestinian state but shunned Western calls for ending settlement activity.
OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu condemned the decision by Israeli to further encroach on what he considers occupied territory in the West Bank.
Ihsanoglu said the settlement activity was meant to fragment the Palestinian territories into "disconnected cantons," undermining the possibility of establishing an independent Palestinian state.
The OIC said the renewed settlement activity creates "new and serious" complications to calls to move forward with Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives, adding it disregards international political consensus.