The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has called the plan to demolish 22 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem “illegal”.
The homes, in the Silwan neighbourhood of the city, will be demolished to build an archaeological tourism park.
US President Barack Obama and Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak have also criticised the approval, granted by Jerusalem City Council.
A spokesman for Mr Ban said: “The secretary-general is deeply concerned about the decision by the Jerusalem municipality to advance planning for house demolitions and further settlement activity in the area of Silwan.
"The planned moves are contrary to international law, and to the wishes of Palestinian residents.
“The secretary-general reminds the Israeli government of its responsibility to ensure provocative steps are not taken which would heighten tensions in the city. The current moves are unhelpful, coming at a time when the goal must be to build trust to support political negotiations."
Mr Barak said the move was not “common sense”.
Although the homes will be demolished in Silwan, another 66 Palestinian homes which were built without planning permission have been legalised.