UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday again called on Israel to withdraw its settlement construction plans in the E1 area of the West Bank, while stressing that protests over the plans must remain peaceful.
"The secretary-general is following with concern developments regarding the announced plans for Israeli settlement construction in the so-called E1 area, on which he expressed his grave disappointment in his statement of 2 December," said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesperson.
"The secretary-general repeats his call that any such settlement plans for E1 must be rescinded," said the statement.
In the statement, Ban underlined that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are "illegal" under international law.
He also noted that the recent Palestinian demonstrations in the E1 area, as well as the Israeli evacuation of the protesters, were largely non-violent.
"The secretary-general stresses the importance for protests to continue to remain peaceful and for the right to peaceful protest to be fully respected," said the statement.
"In this particularly difficult period for the region, all concerned should make serious efforts towards creating the conditions for a resumption of meaningful peace negotiations and to protect the future of the peace process, which is in danger," Ban added in the statement.
In another statement issued on December 2, 2012, the UN chief expressed his "grave concern and disappointment" over Israel's decision on settlement expansion, saying it would deal "an almost fatal blow" to the prospects of a two-state solution.
The Israeli government's decision to build new Jewish settlements came a day after the Palestinians upgraded their UN status to a non-member state on November 29.
Israeli media reported that some of the new construction would be in E1, a highly contentious area of the West Bank that runs between the easternmost edge of annexed east Jerusalem and the Maaleh Adumim settlement.
Settlement activities brought peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians to a halt in 2010. The Palestinian leadership decided then to appeal to the United Nations for a state recognition despite U.S. opposition.