Israel returns to pre-Oslo policy of vast land confiscations

Ma’an News Agency | – –

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel has reinstated a policy of confiscating vast swathes of Palestinian land for settlement expansion in a trend not seen since the pre-Oslo period in the 1980s, Peace Now reported Tuesday.

The Israeli settlement watchdog pointed chiefly to a vast tract of Palestinian land south of Jericho that was declared “state land” by Israel’s civil administration last week in one of Israel’s largest land grabs in recent years.

The group reported 2,342 dunams (580 acres) of land in the southern occupied West Bank area had been signed off as Israeli government property on March 10.

The seizure far surpassed the 1,500 dunams (370 acres) in the area initially approved for a takeover by Israel’s Minister of Defense in January, according to the watchdog.

It paves the way for the construction of 358 housing units in the illegal settlement of Almog, and will set aside large amounts of land for Israel’s trade and tourism sectors, despite belonging to Palestinians in occupied territory.

Branding the recent declaration of state land as a “de-facto confiscation” of Palestinian land, the group noted that a number of Israeli tourist sites, souvenir shops, and a gas station have long been operating on the land.

“Instead of trying to calm the situation, the government is adding fuel to the fire and sending a clear message to Palestinians, as well as to Israelis, that it has no intention to work towards peace and two states,” the group said.

“[Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu proves yet again, that settler pressure is more important to him than the deteriorating security situation.”

The group said that Israel has not confiscated such large swathes of land for the purpose of settlement expansion since the pre-Oslo period in the 1980s, with recent moves indicating a clear change of policy.

Israel’s growing settlements in that earlier period played a significant role in triggering the First Intifada, or uprising, which led to the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Peace Now said the recent takeover followed that of around 5,000 dunams (1,240 acres) of Palestinian land in Bethlehem district, which was declared state land in August and April of 2014.

The area south of Jericho now declared state land lies on the opposite end of the E1 corridor — a strip of land that runs across the central occupied West Bank from Jerusalem.

Palestinians in E1 have slowly been pushed out of the corridor by expanding settlements deep inside the West Bank, and Palestinians believe that a complete takeover of the corridor would split the occupied West Bank in two, making a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.

On Tuesday, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat condemned Israel’s confiscation of the Jericho land as a continuation of “its colonial project by maintaining its belligerent occupation and by annexing more Palestinian lands throughout the occupied West Bank.”

He said that a “culture impunity, granted by the international community” was the main obstacle to ending Israel’s occupation and the realization of “the systematically denied inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”

In a rare criticism of Israeli policy, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro in January slammed Israel’s takeover of vast tracts of Palestinian land as state land.

He said that the creation of two states would “become more and more difficult if Israel plans to continue to expand the footprint of settlements.”

He added: “The question we ask is a simple one: what is Israel’s strategy?”

Via Ma’an News Agency

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

World Bank from last year: “Area C and the Future of the Palestinian Economy”

2 Responses

  1. “The question we ask is a simple one: what is Israel’s strategy?”

    To incite a Third Intifada and then expel everyone who resists the will of Israel (god).

    With the recent narrowing of choices available in the USA’s election, it’ll be full speed ahead for the annexation of Judea and Samaria.

    If there’s a god, and that god really wants us to live in peace with our neighbours, now’s the time for it to intervene. We’re not going to be listening to each other for a while otherwise.

    I apologize for being so cynical.

  2. As many guessed, the main reason why Israel kept the status quo going, rejecting even US offers to hold peace talks (offering jet fighters one time), was simply because they wanted this to end this way. To steal lands for illegal settlements, belonging to those they occupy, blockade, and control, was the only way they could build thousands of illegal settlements, and the zionists had a master plan, and this was it. So they made up excuses like thieves, blaming the entire world, their victims, and made the US leaders become their enablers. Today Ted Cruz faulted Trump for saying that he wanted to be “neutral” in this conflict, as if being neutral was a negative, and he proudly boasted he was fully supportive of an apartheid nation, who blames those it steals from. He also mentioned that Israel was against “terrorists” (ignoring the millions of innocent civilians).

    They are going to get away with everything, even murder, and I hope the American leaders who supported, armed, and aided this monster, are all proud of the results.
    I think a lot of fault also lies with the representatives of Palestinian people, including Abbas. It seems he was deliberately slow in helping his people. The Arab nations have a lot to be blamed for too.
    The squatter nation has now become bolder, it is the result of world indifference. Shame.

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