UN chief Ban Ki-moon has condemned Israel's plan to seize hundreds of acres of Palestinian agricultural land as part of its settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.
“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about reports of Israel authorizing the declaration of 370 acres in the West Bank, south of Jericho, as so-called ‘state land,’” said Ban in a statement.
“Settlement activities are a violation of international law and run counter to the public pronouncements of Israel supporting a diplomatic solution to the conflict,” he added.
Israeli media said on Wednesday Tel Aviv was preparing to announce the appropriation of some 370 acres of land north of the West Bank settlement of Almog, near the Palestinian city of Jericho in the Jordan Valley.
The move by the Tel Aviv regime was also roundly condemned by the Palestinians, with senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat calling it theft.
“If you go between here and 70 kilometers (45 miles) straight you will see nothing but farms of grapes, palm trees, vegetables, stealing the water from Palestinians, the land from Palestinians,” said Erekat.
The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal.
The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.
The Palestinian Authority wants the West Bank as part of its future independent state, with East al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.