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Palestine says Israel abusing COVID-19 to grab more lands

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)
File photo of illegal Israeli settlement Givat Zeev near the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank. (By AFP)

Palestinians believe Israel is taking advantage of the disease caused by the coronavirus pandemic to grab more of their lands and to escalate aggression against the people of Palestine.

Head of the anti-settlement commission of the Palestinian Authority said on Saturday that Israel is using the situation to expand its settlement activities in the occupied territories.

In a separate statement on Saturday, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) warned against a recently-leaked understanding between the USA and Israel over Tel Aviv’s plans for further annexation of Palestinian lands, and for the purpose of building illegal colonial settlements on the occupied Palestinian territories.

The statement, issued by PLO's Department for the Defense of Lands, said that the Israeli regime is exploiting the world’s engagement in fight against coronavirus by considering some annexation plans that would confiscate more Palestinian-owned lands for illegal settlement purposes.

The comments came a few days after the Arab League warned Israel was exploiting the international community’s preoccupation with the viral outbreak to push ahead with its settlement expansion in the occupied territories.

Speaking in a telephone conversation with PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat on Tuesday, Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the Israeli violations include killing, arresting and displacing civilians, annexing new settlements, and attacking Palestinian holy sites.

Aboul Gheit warned Israel against implementing its annexation plans for the occupied Palestinian territories, whether in the Jordan Valley, the northern West Bank or elsewhere.

The Tel Aviv regime has stepped up its settlement construction activities in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounces settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”

Earlier in the week, Aboul Gheit wrote to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), calling on the humanitarian organization to help secure the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli detention centers amid rising cases of infection with the new coronavirus in the occupied territories.

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