White House condemns Israel’s plan to annex additional W. Bank land for housing

The 400 hectares (988 Acres) of West Bank land was Declared Israeli Land & was put under Israeli control when Arafat signed the Oslo Peace Accords

By i24news



The United States is calling on Israel to reverse its decision to appropriate 400 hectares of land in the West Bank, calling the move “counterproductive” to peace efforts.

The Gush Etzion bloc of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and surrounding Palestinian villages

“We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity,” a State Department official said. “This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes, planning step they approve and construction tender they issue is counterproductive to Israel’s stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians.”

The Palestinian leadership on Sunday decried Israel’s announcement of the land appropriation, intended for the construction of a new town called Gva’ot – an expansion of a small existing settlement in the settlement bloc known as Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem.

In a statement the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) said that “today’s announcement clearly represents Israel’s deliberate intent to wipe out any Palestinian presence on the land and to willfully impose a de facto one-state solution.”

The move land seizure is the biggest of its kind in three decades, according to the dovish Peace Now movement. It was adopted by the government following the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youths by Hamas-affiliated terrorists in the Gush Etzion region. Israel argues that it has not found any legal proof of Palestinian ownership of the land. But the Palestinians say the land belongs to five villages: Jaba, Surif, Wadi Fukin, Husan and Nahalin.

“On the instructions of the political echelon… 4,000 dunams at Gva’ot (settlement) is declared as state land,” said the army department charged with administering civil affairs, laying down a 45-day period for any appeal.

Israel has named three Palestinians from the southern West Bank city of Hebron as being behind the murders and destroyed their family homes.

Escorted by Israeli soldiers for protection, an Israeli settler shops in the Palestinian souk of the old city of Hebron, in the southern Israeli occupied West bank on October 3, 2012, – Photo:Hazem Bader (AFP/File)

“The goal of the murderers of those three youths was to sow fear among us, to disrupt our daily lives and to call into doubt our right to the land,” the Etzion settlement council said in response to the decision. “Our response is to strengthen settlement.”

The existing settlement of Gva’ot consists of only 10 families.

Haaretz reported that construction at the site had been on the agenda since 2000 and last year the government invited bids for the building of 1,000 new homes there.

In an angry reaction to the announcement, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat called for diplomatic action against Israel.

“The Israeli government is committing various crimes against the Palestinian people and their occupied land,” he told AFP.

Building site of new housing units in the Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov, in the northern area of east Jerusalem – Photo: Ahmad Gharabli (AFP/File)

“The international community should hold Israel accountable as soon as possible for its crimes and raids against our people in Gaza and the ongoing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

“As far as we know, this declaration is unprecedented in its scope since the 1980s and can dramatically change the reality in the Gush Etzion and the Bethlehem areas,” Peace Now said.

Some 550,000 Israelis live among 2.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory that the Jewish state captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

“Peace Now views this declaration as proof that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not aspire for a new ‘Diplomatic Horizon’, but rather he continues to put obstacles to the two-state vision and promote a one-state solution.

(With AFP)


View original i24news publication at: http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/42101-140831-israel-to-expropriate-chunk-of-west-bank-land