Israel confirms plans to seize fertile land in West Bank

International condemnation grows against Israel after it confirmed plans to take over more fertile land in occupied West Bank

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

About 60 percent of the West Bank is under Israeli control

Israel on Thursday confirmed that it is planning to appropriate a large portion of agricultural land in the occupied West Bank where Israeli forces destroyed six structures funded by European Union’s humanitarian arm.

COGAT, a unit of Israel's Defence Ministry, said in an email cited by Reuters that the decision to seize the agricultural land had been taken and is in “the final stages of being declared state land."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon stated that he was "deeply concerned" by this move, which marks the biggest expropriation since 2014.

"The Secretary General reiterates his call for substantial policy changes on the ground by Israel that will improve the lives of Palestinians," the UN statement said.

"Settlement activities are a violation of international law and run counter to the public pronouncements of the Government of Israel supporting a two-state solution to the conflict."

According to media reports, Israel will seize 154 hectares (380 acres) in the Jordan Valley close to Jericho, an area where Israel already has many settlement farms built on land Palestinians seek for a state.

Israel has already demolished six structures which were funded by EU and belonged to Palestinians.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that the buildings funded by EU was illegal.

"They're building without authorisation, against the accepted rules,” he said.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, described the Israel’s last move as a violation of international law and said that "Israel is stealing land specially in the Jordan Valley under the pretext it wants to annex it."

"This should be a reason for a real and effective intervention by the international community to end such a flagrant and grave aggression which kills all chances of peace," she said.

The United States, said on Wednesday it is strongly opposed to any move that accelerates settlement expansion.

"We believe they're fundamentally incompatible with a two-state solution and call into question, frankly, the Israeli government's commitment to a two-state solution," Deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

Approximately 400,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, in settlements that are largely condemned as being illegal by the international community, which sees settlement building as undermining international efforts to reach a two-state solution.

TRTWorld and agencies