Israel appropriates 650 acres of West Bank land near big settlement

Israel appropriates 650 acres of West Bank land near big settlement

JERUSALEM, Feb 29 (Reuters) – Israel appropriated several tracts of land abutting a major Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, but a source briefed on the decision told Reuters there was currently no plan for construction there.

An announcement by the Civil Administration, part of Israel’s Defence Ministry, said the tracts amounted to 2,640 dunams, or 652 acres. The Israeli source said they would now be designated part of Maale Adumim settlement, east of Jerusalem.

A spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority said the move underscored Israel’s steady push to cut off Jerusalem from the Palestinian areas which surround it and undermine the possibility of creating an independent Palestinian state.

“The Israeli occupation authorities deliberately defy international legitimacy and its resolutions, which have consistently declared the illegitimacy of settlements in all Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, said.

The West Bank is among territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and where Palestinians, with international support, seek statehood. Most world powers deem the settlements illegal. Israel disputes that, citing historical claims to the West Bank and describing it as a security bulwark.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist government has promoted the settlements, creating friction with the United States even as the allies close ranks over Israel’s war with Palestinian Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

On Feb. 24, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington deemed West Bank settlements inconsistent with international law, reverting to a U.S. position that had been overturned by the administration of then-President Donald Trump.

Original article appeared on Reuters.

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