UK deplores Israeli decision to expropriate land near Bethlehem and urges Israel to reverse the decision.
Commenting on Israel’s decision on 31 August to expropriate almost 990 acres of privately owned Palestinian land near Bethlehem, the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “The UK deplores the Israeli government’s expropriation of 988 acres of land around the settlement of Etzion near Bethlehem. This is a particularly ill-judged decision that comes at a time when the priority must be to build on the ceasefire in Gaza. It will do serious damage to Israel’s standing in the international community.
“Our position on settlements is clear: they are illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace and take us further away from a two state solution at a time when negotiations to achieve this objective urgently need to be resumed.
“All efforts should currently be focused on securing a durable ceasefire in Gaza and the lasting peace that the Palestinian and Israeli people deserve. We strongly urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision.”
Israel announces West Bank land as state.
Israeli authorities on Sunday announced a land of 4,000 dunam (four square kilometred) used as a settlement in the West Bank would be turned into state land and the government would acknowledge it as a new Israeli community, Xinhua reported.
There is no ownership claimed by Palestinians over these specific lands, Israeli authorities said, adding there will be a period of 45 days, in which objections against the decision could be filed.There is currently a settlement in the area of Gva’ot, near Gush Ezion in the West Bank, which is built without proper permits. While, with the announcement, the settlement will be turned into part of Israeli lands.
The decision was made following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens at the same area in June when Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon said a new settlement will be established in the area.
West Bank settlements are considered illegal by the international community and prevent a territorial continuity to the Palestinian territories in the West Bank.
“The announcement paves the way to the establishment of the new city of Gva’ot”, David Perl, head of the Gush Etzion regional council, told the Ynet news website.