Ban renews call for Israel to halt West Bank settlement

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - UN leader Ban Ki Moon on Monday renewed a call for Israel to scrap its plans to build settlements in a controversial West Bank area where police have evicted dozens of Palestinian activists.

Mr Ban is "following with concern" developments around the "E1" area on the outskirts of Jerusalem, said a statement released by his press office.

"He notes that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. The secretary general repeats his call that any such settlement plans for E1 must be rescinded," the statement added.

Hundreds of Israeli police entered a protest camp in E1 early on Sunday and took away about 200 activists who had set up the camp two days earlier.

Israel recently moved forward with plans to build in the area, which links Jerusalem to an Israeli settlement, drawing international criticism for the move, which Palestinians say would effectively end the chances for a contiguous Palestinian state.

Mr Ban noted that the Palestinian demonstrations and the Israeli evacuation of the protesters had been "largely non-violent" and added that the right to stage peaceful protests had "to be fully respected."

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