Israel declares major LAND GRAB in West Bank

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via naturalnews

The Israeli government has claimed almost 2,000 acres in the West Bank as state-owned land, in a move described by rights groups as the largest land grab on occupied Palestinian territories in decades.
Nevertheless, the growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is considered illegal under international law.

In 2016, the United Nations Security Council defined them as “a major obstacle to the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, however, claimed that the declaration of state-owned land in the Jordan Valley on Friday, March 22, was “an important and strategic issue.”

“While there are those in Israel and the world who seek to undermine our right to Judea and Samaria and the country in general, we promote the settlement movement with hard work and in a strategic manner across the country,” Smotrich said in a statement.

As reported on local media, the classification of plots of land as Israeli government-owned land clears the way for the construction of settler houses, in addition to commercial development. (Related: “Great Israeli Real Estate Event” sparks outrage after illegally advertising properties that are on track to be confiscated from besieged West Bank.)

Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now described the announcement as the biggest since the 1993 Oslo Accords, stating further that “the year 2024 marks a peak in the extent of declarations of state land.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration gave the go-ahead to the recent construction of over 3,400 new settler homes, attracting more criticism from the UN and the Palestinian Authority.

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UN human rights chief Volker Turk stated in his report to the Security Council on March 8: “The West Bank is already in crisis. Yet, settler violence and settlement-related violations have reached shocking new levels, and risk eliminating any practical possibility of establishing a viable Palestinian State.”

Smotrich said in February that the expansion of settlements was a legitimate reaction to Palestinian terrorist attacks.

“Our enemies know that any harm to us will lead to more construction and more development and more of our hold all over the country,” Smotrich wrote on his X (formerly Twitter) account.

The move arrived almost three weeks after the Defense Ministry body that approves settlement construction expedited plans for 3,426 new Israeli homes to be constructed beyond the Green Line.

Settlements Minister Orit Strock announced back then that after a months-long pause in West Bank construction approvals, the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee had boosted projects to build 2,402 new homes in Ma’ale Adumim, 694 homes in Efrat and 330 homes in Keidar.

The projects in Ma’ale Adumim and Keidar were authorized through a previous planning stage called a deposit, while the homes for Efrat acquired a more advanced planning approval before construction.

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Smotrich, under whose auspices the subcommittee falls, called the recent expansion an “appropriate Zionist response” to a terror attack outside Ma’ale Adumim, in which one man was killed and 11 were injured, as well as a pregnant woman.

More than 490,000 Israelis are living in settlements across the West Bank
Despite opposition abroad, Israel has in the past few decades developed dozens of settlements across the West Bank.

They are now home to more than 490,000 Israelis, who dwell in the territory along with around three million Palestinians.

The Biden administration stated last month the settlements were “inconsistent” with international law after Israel declared recent housing plans.

Palestinian authorities denounced the land grab and growth of illegal settlements.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the newest move a “crime” that is a portion of an “official policy racing against time to annex the West Bank and eliminate the possibility of creating a Palestinian state.”

“There are no morals, values, principles or international resolutions that can stop the extremist right. The international failure to protect our people is complicity and cover for Israel’s ongoing evasion of punishment,” the ministry said.

The Palestinian Authority has called on all nations to put individuals connected to settler organizations or companies investing in settlement construction across the occupied Palestinian territories on their terror lists. The UN has already compiled a list of companies with business relations in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

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