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US to Israel: Don’t grab Palestinian land


The United States has criticized Israel’s plan to grab hundreds of hectares of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.

On Sunday, the Israeli military said nearly 1,000 acres (400 hectares) of land in the area of Bethlehem will be seized. The Palestinians criticized the decision and called for international action against Tel Aviv.

“We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity,” a US State Department official said on Monday. “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.”

“We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,” the official said in Washington.

Earlier, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was “alarmed” by the Israeli plans.

A spokesman for the UN chief said, “The seizure of such a large swath 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.”

Britain, Egypt, and some other countries also criticized Israel for its decision to grab the land inside the West Bank.

Israeli settlements are considered illegal by the UN and most countries because the territories were captured by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967, and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds, and the Gaza Strip and are demanding Israel to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories.

Tel Aviv, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.

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