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US urges Israel to reverse Palestinian land-grab plan
Published Tuesday 02/09/2014 (updated) 03/09/2014 13:47
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The United States urges Israel to reverse its latest plan to seize
Palestinian land in the Bethlehem area of the occupied West Bank
(AFP Ahmad Gharabli)
WASHINGTON (AFP) -- Israel faced increasing pressure Monday, including from the United States, after saying it plans to expropriate 4,000 dunams (1,000 acres) of Palestinian land in the Bethlehem area in the south of the occupied West Bank.

Ally Washington, the United Nations, and Egypt all called for an urgent rethink after Sunday's announcement, which angered the Palestinians and alarmed Israeli peace campaigners, and comes days after a long-term ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians took hold.

According to the Israeli military, the land move was a political decision made after the June killing of three Israeli teenagers snatched in the same area, known to Israelis as the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

"This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes, planning step they approve, and construction tender they issue, is counterproductive to Israel's stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians," a US State Department official said.

"We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policy of settlement expansion on land the Palestinians claim for a future state is deemed illegal by the European Union and an "obstacle to peace" by the United States.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was "alarmed" by Israel's plans, his spokesman said.

"The seizure of such a large swathe of land risks paving the way for further settlement activity, which -- as the United Nations has reiterated on many occasions -- is illegal under international law and runs totally counter to the pursuit of a two-state solution," the spokesman said.

"The secretary-general calls on Israel to heed the calls of the international community to refrain from settlement activity and abide by its commitments under international law."

Egypt -- which last week mediated a permanent truce between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip to end a seven-week war -- denounced Israel's move.

"This is not a positive step -- it contradicts international law and will have negative consequences on the peace process," a foreign ministry statement in Cairo said.

The foreign ministry did not mention the Gaza truce talks, but insisted that Israel's planned West Bank land grab would be "an obstacle" to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Rights watchdog Amnesty International similarly denounced the Israeli plans, saying that it "appears to be the largest land grab in the occupied Palestinian territories since 1980."

"Israel's strategy of illegally confiscating land for settlements in the West Bank must stop once and for all," said Amnesty's Philip Luther.

The Palestinians have called for diplomatic action against Israel, while Israeli peace campaigners said the land expropriation is the biggest of its kind in three decades.
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1 ) carine / UK
02/09/2014 14:33
' Alarmed', 'counterproductive', 'obstacle to peace', - FFS when is Israel going to be punished for their gross, indecent behaviour - they've been giving the middle finger to the world for long enough and getting away with it - others are punished for a lot less. It's time they were given a kick up the Kyber Pass...

2 ) Tibi / Tubas
02/09/2014 14:39
-1- Israel should "grab Palestinian land" for the murders of the THREE teenagers, for justice to the Jewish families, AND -2- Israel should return 1/3 of the land" for the murder of the ONE teenagers, for justice to the Palestinian families too, OR -3- Israel does not have one law (as it claims) for both peoples, and ** THE LAND GRABS ARE not JUSTICE **.

3 ) inbound39 / New Zealand.
02/09/2014 15:00
It is time America and EU et al quit this ridiculous waste of valuable breath and put it to better use by taking physical actions for a change against Israel. Sanctions followed by imposition of Two State Solution with NATO Troops to secure 67 Borders. Settlers either become Palestinian citizens subject to Palestinian Law or they leave.

4 ) Oliveland / Palestine
02/09/2014 20:09
3) Inbound39 , the settlers can also stay as Israeli citizens with Palestinian residency , give them the choice .

5 ) Stripedy / USA
02/09/2014 21:16
inbound39, I agree. The more whining and scolding done without any action, the more confident Israel becomes about ignoring it.

6 ) fpm / USA
02/09/2014 22:01
Counter productive? For the past 66 years? No wonder why Netanyahu treats the USA and the EU and UN just like the idiots that they are. He laughs all the way to the bank watching us bankrupt ourselves. Enjoying 29 standing ovations showing our total loyalty to Netanyahu and his terrorist regime. It's time for these countries TO JUST SHUT UP YOUR LYING MOUTHS, NOTHING YOU SAY IS BELIEVED ANY MORE

7 ) roman / usa
02/09/2014 22:48
arabs-israelis wouldn't want to stay, and you are saying hat about Israelis

8 ) Maureen / Australia
02/09/2014 23:35
US "urges" Israel to reverse land - grab program. "Urges?" Like trying to coax a rotten spoiled brat not to misbehave! Where are the sanctions on Israel that it rightly deserves?

9 ) Rami / Palestine
03/09/2014 08:25
#2 You can call Israel a "Western Democracy" and act like one, or you could call it what it really is, an apartheid state as it certainly acts like one. Stealing a 1000 dunum of land from Palestine because 3 Israeli settlers were murdered is not how democracy works. So which is it, are you a democracy or not?
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