12.4 C
New York

Israel announces seizure of 800 hectares in West Bank


Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich declared “state lands” near an illegal settlement. An Israeli settlement watchdog said it was the largest land seizure by Israel since the Oslo Accords in the 1990s.
Israel said on Friday it had seized 800 hectares (1,977 acres) of land in the occupied West Bank.
Israel’s extreme-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich declared “state lands” in the northern Jordan Valley, near the Israeli settlement of Yafit. Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories are illegal under international law.
“While there are those in Israel and the world who seek to undermine our right over the Judea and Samaria area and the country in general, we are promoting settlement through hard work and in a strategic manner all over the country,” Smotrich said on Friday, using a contentious name for the occupied West Bank.
Smotrich heads the extreme-right Religious Zionism party and lives in a settlement himself.
The announcement comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza.
Palestinian government and Israeli watchdog slam illegal settlements
Areas declared state land are no longer considered private property of Palestinians by the Israeli state. The land can then be leased or sold to Israeli settlers. Many governments, including Germany’s, consider all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories illegal under international law.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the move on Friday as “a continuation of the extermination and displacement of our people from their homeland. The international failure to protect our people is complicity and cover for Israel’s ongoing evasion of punishment,” it added.
Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said Friday’s announcement equalled the largest area of land seized by Israel since the 1993 Oslo Accords and that “2024 marks a peak in the extent of declarations of state land.”
“It is clear that Netanyahu and Smotrich are determined to fight against the entire world and against the interests of the people of Israel for the benefit of a handful of settlers who receive thousands of dunams as if there were no political conflict to solve or a war to end,” the organization added. A dunam is a land area of 0.1 hectares or 0.247 acres.
United Nations rights chief Volker Turk recently reported a drastic acceleration in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements, which he said endangers the likelihood of a viable Palestinian state.
Turk called the construction of such settlements a “war crime,” an accusation that Israel rejects.

Related articles

Recent articles