Watchdog flags seizure of land by Israel in West Bank

Published - July 04, 2024 09:09 am IST - Jerusalem

An Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.AFPAHMAD GHARABLI

An Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.AFPAHMAD GHARABLI | Photo Credit: AFP

Israel has approved the largest seizure of land in the occupied West Bank in over three decades, an anti-settlement watchdog group said on Wednesday, a move that could further worsen already soaring tensions linked to the ongoing Gaza war.

Peace Now said authorities recently approved the appropriation of 12.7 square kilometers of land in the Jordan Valley.

The group’s data indicated it was the largest single appropriation approved since the 1993 Oslo accords at the start of the peace process. Violence has surged in the West Bank since Hamas’s October 7 attack ignited the war, with Israel carrying out near-daily military raids.

The land seizure, which was approved late last month but only publicised on Wednesday, comes after the seizure of 8 square kilometers of land in the West Bank in March and 2.6 square kilometers in February. That makes 2024 by far the peak year for Israeli land seizure in the West Bank, Peace Now said.

The parcels are contiguous and located northeast of the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Western-backed Palestinian Authority is headquartered. By declaring them state lands, the Israeli government has opened them up to being leased to Israelis and prohibited private Palestinian ownership.

The Palestinians view the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank as the main barrier to any lasting peace agreement and most of the international community considers them illegal or illegitimate.

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