United Nations: In the wake of Israel’s decision to accelerate settlement building following Palestine’s UNESCO membership, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has asked the two parties to refrain from provocations, expressing concern that such moves will hamper peace negotiations.

The Secretary-General is “worried at the trajectory of developments between Israel and the Palestinians and calls on the parties to act responsibly and seriously for peace," a statement by Ban’s spokesperson said here.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. AP

Ban called on both parties to “refrain from provocations" and work with the Quartet of UN, EU, Russia and the US towards “serious proposals on borders and security in the coming three months, in the context of a shared commitment to resume direct negotiations".

Israel should also continue to transfer VAT and customs revenues that belong to the Palestinian Authority and are essential to enable it to function, in line with Israel’s obligations, the statement said.

Ban has already expressed concern over the implications for UNESCO’s funding, following Palestine’s membership to the UN body.

The US has announced that it will stop payment of $60 million to UNESCO, after Monday’s vote that elected Palestine as a full member.

“The decision was the prerogative of Member States, and the Secretary General wishes to work with them on practical solutions to preserve UNESCO’s financial resources," the statement said.

Israel decided on Tuesday to speed up construction of Jewish settlements in annexed Arab east Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, a day after the UNESCO vote on Palestine.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday in Jerusalem that Israel’s decision to speed up building of 2000 homes was a fundamental right and not punishment for the Palestinians joining UNESCO.

“We build in Jerusalem because it is our right and our obligation; not as punishment but as a basic right of our people to build its eternal capital," Netanyahu told members of parliament.