Israeli officials have approved a plan to confiscate dozens of acres of private Palestinian land in the West Bank city of Bethlehem to construct and expand new illegal settler units in the occupied territory.
Head of the Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Bethlehem, Hassan Bureijia, said in a statement on Sunday that Israeli authorities have approved the confiscation of large swathes of Palestinian-owned land outside the illegal settlement of Beitar Illit in the occupied West Bank near Bethlehem, Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported.
Bureijia said the land will be used for opening settler-only roads and building new illegal housing units for Israeli settlers.
Israel has already occupied thousands of dunums of Palestinian agricultural land to build a series of similar roads in various other areas in the occupied West Bank.
Emboldened by former US president Donald Trump’s all-out support, Israel has stepped up its illegal settlement construction activities in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounced settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”
Much of the international community regards the Israeli settler units in the occupied lands as illegal.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.
The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued illegal settlement expansion.
Many Palestinians believe the Israeli plans to annex one-third of the already illegally occupied West Bank, including parts of the strategic Jordan Valley, is only a formality and a de facto Israeli occupation of their land has been under way for many years.