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Israel finance minister warns land grab eroding support
Published Tuesday 02/09/2014 (updated) 03/09/2014 18:26
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File picture shows Israel's Finance Minister Yair Lapid during the
weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on April 21, 2013
(Pool/AFP/File Gali Tibbon)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned Tuesday that Israel was eroding its international support after Washington joined a chorus of criticism of its biggest grab of Palestinian land since the 1980s.

Lapid complained that the cabinet had not been consulted about Sunday's announcement of the confiscation of 4,000 dunams (1,000 acres) of land in the occupied West Bank to pave the way for further settlement building.

"The announcement, which wasn't brought to the cabinet, regarding 900 acres of land for building in Gush Etzion (between Jerusalem and Hebron) harms the State of Israel," Lapid told an economic conference in Tel Aviv.

"Maintaining the support of the world was already challenging, so why was it so urgent to create another crisis with the United States and the world?" he asked.

Lapid, a moderate within the governing coalition, was alluding to widespread international condemnation of the high Palestinian civilian death toll during Israel's 50-day war in Gaza.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, another cabinet moderate who served as chief negotiator in abortive US-brokered talks with the Palestinians, had already criticized the land grab.

"It weakens Israel and threatens its security," she said on Monday.

But Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, whose far-right Jewish Home party draws much of its support from the settler lobby, defended the move, saying it was retaliation for the murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.

"It's 120 years that the world has opposed our construction, and we'll continue to do it," he said, equating settlement building in the West Bank with construction in what is now Israel in the years before its creation in 1948.

The international community regards all Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, as illegal, and Sunday's announcement by the army drew strong US and UN criticism.

"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."

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.
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1 ) Carol Scheller / Switzerland
02/09/2014 16:07
Exactly who is behind the announcement made without consulting the cabinet? Is this a usual procedure ? Official cocksure Israel continues to flaunt its might in the face of the international community. Who will take up the dare ?

2 ) Maisie / UK
02/09/2014 16:58
"counterproductive" a word used as a substitute description of this additional outrage, rather than the bellicose actions and words used on the Russia/Ukraine situation. Call me naive, but the passivity (to be charitable) on the part of the West is shocking. During the horrors of the Holocaust, those kept in the dark while it was going on can be excused for lack of engagement. In the case of Israel, there is absolutely no excuse for the deliberate negligence. More lives to be lost or ruined.

3 ) davravidumn / USA
02/09/2014 17:21
It is absolutely essential for the U.S. to terminate aid to Israel, unless these settlements STOP.

4 ) marnie / israel
02/09/2014 21:59
#3 - from your mouth to God's ear - and in the meantime support BDS!

5 ) George / UK
03/09/2014 00:51
I am pleased to see more people understanding and supporting the Palestinian cause (in ref. to comments). One huge problem, until recent years, was lack of unaltered information about the conflict (ie. manipulated media). Now we have access to information, thanks to internet and alternative media, and we can see the reality of the conflict. Things like this bring back hope in human kind.

6 ) George / UK
03/09/2014 00:53
It is also good to see not everyone in Israel's leadership is so far right as to be virtually indistinguishable from nazis (looking at you Netanyahu). I just hope decent people will have enough influence to change things for the better.

7 ) Rangitoto / NZ
03/09/2014 01:56
At last common sense is prevailing Words of of wisdom just like Naomi Chazams articles

8 ) joey / phil
03/09/2014 04:00
it shows the real color of bibi a wolf in sheep skin. BDS is the only answer

9 ) joey / phil
03/09/2014 11:53
us must stop arminng israel and provides iron dome in gaza strip
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