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An Israeli soldier looks on during a protest in the village of Al Ma'sara. (Photo:  kelleelund)

Israel Announces 'Unprecedented' Land Seizure

Anti-settlement group says move is "proof that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not aspire for a new 'Diplomatic Horizon'"

Andrea Germanos

Israel announced on Sunday it was seizing 988 acres of land in the West Bank, an amount described as 'unprecedented' by a peace organization.

The appropriation is reportedly in retaliation for the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in June.

According to reporting by Haaretz, "The appropriated land belongs to five Palestinian villages in the Bethlehem area: Jaba, Surif, Wadi Fukin, Husan and Nahalin."

Ma'an News adds:

Part of the lands being confiscated are already home to the illegal Jewish settlement of Gvaot, part of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

Local settlers moved into the area and took over Palestinian land with military support more than a decade ago, but have been living in an area technically unrecognized by Israeli authorities despite their armed protection.

Anti-settlement group Peace Now called the land appropriation "unprecedented in its scope since the 1980's." A statement by the group continues:

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. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya'alon are directly responsible to the declaration, which cannot pass without their approval. By declaring another 4,000 dunams [988 acres] as state land, the Israeli government stabs President Abbas and the moderate Palestinian forces in the back, proving again that violent delivers Israeli concessions while nonviolence results in settlement expansion.


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