Annan calls on Israel to cease West Bank settlement expansion

US President George W. Bush and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan walk with Secretary of State Colin Powell along the colonnade in the Rose Garden at the White House Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2004. (White House/Paul Mors)

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on Israel to cease its recently reported expansion of West Bank settlements, calling the practice a clear contradiction of the country’s obligations under the Road Map peace plan that provides for the establishment of two states - Israel and Palestine - by 2005.

“The Secretary-General expresses strong concern over reports of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, through the Government of Israel’s recent publication of tenders for construction of new housing units,” a statement issued by his spokesman said.

Such activities “clearly contradict Israel’s obligations under the Road Map” which unequivocally calls for a freeze on all settlement activity, the spokesman noted, pointing out that this also covers what is called “natural growth,” namely the construction of housing within the existing boundaries of a given settlement.

The Secretary-General called on the Israeli Government to cease this settlement expansion and to fulfil its Road Map obligations. The Road Map, sponsored by the UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States, calls for a series of parallel and reciprocal steps leading to two States living side-by-side in peace by the end of next year.