West Bank: Israel launches largest land seizure in 30 years

Israeli authorities seized over 24 million square meters of land in the occupied West Bank, reported Middle East Monitor on July 3rd.

Israel now classifies the confiscated land as “state-owned property” in which it will build more illegal settlements. The occupation authorities have declared the newly taken Palestinian land to be state-owned in three stages, according to a report provided by the Hebrew website, Ynet. Peace Now, an anti-settlement watchdog, stated that the most recent land grab was the largest single appropriation approved since the 1993 Oslo accords.

The first stage saw three million square meters of land in the Jordan Valley appropriated under the previous government led by Naftali Bennett.  Four months ago, 8.5 million square meters of land was annexed. On July 2nd, an additional 12 million square meters was taken and declared “state-owned.”

The Israeli government plans to build residential, industrial and commercial areas in the illegal settlement areas. The move has invited opposition from multiple nations, including the United States.

READ: Israeli settlers attack Palestinian shepherds in West Bank

The Supreme Planning Council of the army’s Civil Administration is expected to issue permits for building 5,300 settlement housing units and 600 other units in other areas within the West Bank. The report outlined Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s goal as “to prevent Palestinian geographical contiguity on the one hand, and to establish Jewish settlement contiguity on the other hand.”

Smotrich aims to declare privately Palestinian-owned land as “state-owned” after Israeli authorities confiscate it. The finance minister is seeking to establish the settlement outpost of Evyatar, which has been deemed illegal under international and Israeli law. The confiscation of private Palestinian land for settlement has been seen in areas within the West Bank, such as Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem. Ynet claims that the approval of construction plans in new settlements would allow for “complete control” over the West Bank under Israel. A key objective of Smotrich is advancing land seizure in the Jordan Valley despite international condemnation.

On July 1st, the powers of the Civil Administration’s judicial advisor were passed to another advisor under Smotrich’s command. Currently, Smotrich’s department is seeking to expand transport infrastructure by building roads through the West Bank to be used solely by illegal Jewish settlers.

Middle East Monitor and agencies

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