UN chief to attend Arab League summit amid new concerns about Middle East

13:58, March 25, 2010      

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks to the media after briefing his recent visit to the Middle East during a Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, the United States, March 24, 2010. Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called on Israelis and Palestinians to start negotiations immediately and to take measures to avoid disruptions by extremists. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said here Wednesday that he will participate in the League of Arab States summit this weekend in Libya amid what he called a crisis of confidence surrounding Israel's plans to build new settlements in East Jerusalem.

"I say again, here, what I have been repeatedly saying: that settlements are illegal under international law. This must stop," the secretary-general told journalists at the UN Headquarters in New York following an announcement that Israel planned to construct another 20 dwellings in East Jerusalem, in addition to the 1,600 new settlements announced last week.

Earlier on Wednesday, the secretary-general briefed the UN Security Council on the meeting of the diplomatic Quartet -- comprising of the UN, the European Union (EU), the US and Russia -- he attended last Friday in Moscow, and his subsequent visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

Ban reiterated that there were no alternatives to a two-state solution, and that all final issues should be resolved within 24 months despite possible provocations from extremists.

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