RAMALLAH, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday expressed deep concerns about Israel's new settlement plans.
The plan fuels the Palestinian people's "mistrust of the seriousness of the Israeli side toward achieving peace," Ban said at a press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Ban arrived in the region to show support to the peace talks that the United States brokered between Israel and the Palestinians last month. On Wednesday, negotiators from both sides met for the second time since July in Jerusalem. The resumption of talks comes after almost three years' stalemate.
Israeli's recent tenders to build new homes in Jewish settlements on occupied lands in East Jerusalem and the West Bank clouded the atmosphere at the negotiating table.
Meanwhile, Ban praised the release of the first group of 104 long-serving prisoners by Israel as a goodwill gesture to the negotiations, but showing concern for about 5,000 other prisoners still being held, as some of whom were on hunger strike or doing time without a trial. He urged Israel to either convict or free the prisoners held on administrative orders.
For his part, Abbas stressed that negotiations were the only way for the Palestinians to establish their state.