The United Nations called Thursday for Israel not to build new settlements, saying such plans would amount to a "provocative action" to the peace process with the Palestinians.

Robert Serry, UN coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said the plan was strongly opposed by the international community when it was announced last year.

"If confirmed, this provocative action undermines ongoing efforts by the international community to bring the parties back to negotiations," Serry said.

Israel had planned construction of 1,600 units in Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem after it lifted a 10-month freeze on settlement activities in September 2010 in occupied Palestinian territory.

Israel announced the intention to proceed with the construction in Ramat Shlomo, one week after it took a separate decision to erect 900 housing units in another part of East Jerusalem.

The UN, the European Union, the United States and Russia – known as the quartet in Middle East diplomacy - have opposed new Jewish settlements because they ran counter to efforts to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.