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Construction in the Israeli settlement of Ariel in the West Bank. Photo: Annie Slemrod/IRIN

Dec. 6, 2016 – The United Nations envoy on the Middle East peace process today warned against Israel’s move to adopt the so-called ‘legalization bill,’ which aims to protect illegal settlements and outposts built on private Palestinian property in the West Bank, “but which some have said could be a step towards annexation” of the area.

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“If adopted, it will have far reaching legal consequences for Israel, across the occupied West Bank and will greatly diminish the prospect of Arab-Israeli peace,” said the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, in a press statement.

He reiterated that all settlement activities are illegal under international law and run counter to the position of the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East – comprising the UN, Russia, the United States and the European Union – that settlements are one of the main obstacles to peace.

“I encourage Israeli legislators to reconsider this move,” he said.