UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- A decision by the Israeli government to expand settlement activity in the West Bank undermines the trust needed for Middle East peace, the U.N. chief said.
A statement from the office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said a decision to build 1,500 new units at settlements gets in the way of the negotiation process needed to bring peace to the region.
"Any measures that prejudge final status issues [on Palestine] will not be recognized by the international community," the statement, issued Wednesday, said.
The Israeli announcement followed an Israeli government decision to free more than two dozen Palestinian prisoners.
Ban's condemnation followed a report from U.N. special envoy Richard Folk, who said "all Israeli settlements" in the West Bank were established in "clear violation of international law."
He told members of the U.N. General Assembly the European banking group Dexia and U.S. real estate company Re/Max were tied to the settlement activity.