The United Nations has condemned the forcible eviction of nine families from a building in an Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
"I deplore today's unacceptable action by armed Israeli settlers who forcibly took over a building, which is home to nine Palestinian families, in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City," said Robert H Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.
"I call on the Israeli authorities to remove the settlers from the property and restore the status quo ante," he added.
The eviction comes in the midst of efforts by US to get Israelis and Palestinians to re-engage in talks. The international community has repeatedly called on Israel to stop building settlements in territories occupied by it during the 1967 War.
These calls have gone unheeded. "These provocative acts come at a critical time in the international community’s efforts to move the peace process forward," Serry said.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the future capital of West Bank and Gaza strip under the two state solution but many settlers see this territory as the land given by God to the Jews.
The UN also reported that the Israeli authorities also destroyed a number of Palestinian commercial structures on the outskirts of East Jerusalem.
Ban will be meeting Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Barak when the two meet in New York today.
"He expects to discuss a range of issues with him, including the situation in Gaza and the need to continue Israel's freeze on settlement activity," Martin Nesirky, UN spokesperson told journalists.
This week, the UN chief also spoke with other leaders in the region including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
Ban underlined his support for to move towards meaningful direct talks during his phone conversations, according to Nesirky.