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Israel, US committing ‘land theft’ in occupied West Bank: PLO

Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)

Israel is committing “land theft” in the occupied territories as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the “complicity” of the US government is trying to pass a legislation that would effectively annex West Bank settlements, a top Palestinian official says.

“Netanyahu's latest statement ... confirms US complicity with Israeli colonial plans,” said Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), on Monday, denouncing the Israeli moves as “land theft.”

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu told Israel’s 120-seat parliament (Knesset) that he had been discussing legislation with Washington that would effectively annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“On the subject of applying sovereignty, I can say that I have been talking to the Americans about it for some time,” Netanyahu was quoted by a spokesman of his right-wing Likud party as telling a meeting of its legislators.

Netanyahu was referring to enforcing Israeli law on the settlements, a step tantamount to annexation. They are currently under the jurisdiction of the Israeli military that occupied the West Bank in a 1967 war.

There was no immediate confirmation from the White House on whether discussions on the subject had been held.

However, US President Donald Trump has already said that the settlements were something that very much complicated and always had complicated making peace. “So I think Israel has to be very careful with the settlements.”

Meanwhile, Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said, “No-one has the right to discuss the situation of the occupied Palestinian land.” He added that any annexation would ruin all efforts to try and save the so-called peace process.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The continued expansion of Israeli settlements is one of the major obstacles to the establishment of peace in the Middle East.

In recent months, Tel Aviv has stepped up its settlement construction activities in the occupied Palestinian lands in a blatant violation of international law and in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334.

European nations and the United Nations, among others, maintain their strong opposition to settlement building in the Palestinian territories.

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