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Israel affirms plans to grab Palestinian land in West Bank

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A general view shows construction in the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev (foreground), in East al-Quds (Jerusalem), January 15, 2016. ©AFP

The Israeli regime has confirmed plans to seize a large tract of fertile Palestinian land for the purpose of expanding its illegal settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

The decision had already been taken to capture the territory and “the lands are in the final stages of being declared” Israeli lands, Reuters quoted a unit in the Israeli Ministry for Military Affairs, which coordinates Tel Aviv’s activities in the occupied territories, as saying.

Earlier this week, Israeli media reported that the Tel Aviv regime is to confiscate 380 acres (154 hectares) of agricultural land in the Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Jericho over the coming weeks.

The planned land grab will be the largest since August 2014.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), denounced the seizure, saying it breaches the international law.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization ©AFP

“Israel is stealing land specially in the Jordan Valley under the pretext it wants to annex it,” Ashrawi said, adding, “This should be a reason for a real and effective intervention by the international community to end such a flagrant and grave aggression which kills all chances of peace.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned Israel’s land grab plans in a statement released on Wednesday, saying, “Settlement activities are a violation of international law.”

US Deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner also expressed Washington’s opposition to any move that accelerates the illegal settlement expansion.

EU-funded structures demolished

In another development on Thursday, Israeli forces destroyed six structures in the occupied West Bank funded by the European Union (EU)'s humanitarian arm.

Palestinian boys walks past the remains of their family's dwelling, that was funded by the EU's humanitarian arm, after it was demolished by Israeli forces, near the West Bank village of Al-Eizariya, near east of Jerusalem January 21, 2016. (Reuters Photo)

The structures belonged to Palestinian Bedouins living in the contentious area known as E1, which is located adjacent to East al-Quds.

"This is the third time they demolished my house and every time I rebuilt it, this time also I will rebuild it and I am not leaving here. If we leave they will turn the place into a closed military zone," said Saleem Jahaleen, whose home was demolished.

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.

The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settler units as unlawful.

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 a future independent Palestinians state, with East al-Quds as its capital.

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