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Israel Breaks Three Decades Record in Land Seizures This Year

© AP Photo / Ramez HabboubSmoke rises following an Israeli airstrike on buildings near the separating wall between Egypt and Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, May 6, 2024.
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike on buildings near the separating wall between Egypt and Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, May 6, 2024.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.07.2024
Even as Jewish settlements in the West Bank are considered illegitimate by much of the global community, on Wednesday the Israeli authority declared an additional 5 square miles of the Jordan Valley as their own.
According to an anti-settlement watchdog group, Israel has now claimed their largest seizure of land in the occupied West Bank in more than three decades. The land seizure is the largest since the 1993 Oslo Accords established a framework for a Palestinian state consisting of the West Bank and Gaza, Peace Now said.
In June, Israel laid claim to about 12.7 square kilometers (4.9 sq miles) of the Jordan Valley, allowing Israel to allocate that land for new settlements and to block Palestinians from accessing it. Despite their actions being internationally viewed as illegal, Israel’s Civil Administration published the order on Wednesday - about a week after it was enacted, The Wall Street Journal reported.
According to Peace Now, Israel has laid claim to a total of 9 square miles of the West Bank since the start of this year, making 2024 a record year for land seizures. Since October 7, Israel has claimed to operate extensively within the West Bank to eliminate Hamas. Israel has built about 160 settlements that house some 700,000 Jews since it first occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
More than 500 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed since the war in Gaza first began, while the death toll from Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip has risen to 38,011 with 87, 445 people injured, according to the enclave’s health ministry.
“Almost half of the lands that were confiscated [since Oslo] were confiscated this year,” said Hagit Ofran, who tracks settlement growth at Peace Now. “It’s huge.”
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Mu’ayyad Shaa’ban, the head of the Palestinian Authority's settlement-monitoring commission explained that the land seizures are designed to dispossess Palestinians as part of a “large plan aimed at controlling the eastern part of the West Bank”. Meanwhile, the UN has criticized the land seizure as a “step in the wrong direction” for what they hope can be a two-state solution for the war in Gaza.
The report from The Wall Street Journal, an American newspaper, even acknowledged that Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state and acknowledges “working to weaken the Palestinian Authority”. Smotrich, who considers the West Bank a part of a “Greater Israel”, had also created a new “deputy role” in Israel’s Civil Administration, and that post has been filled by a pro-settler who will make decisions regarding land designations.
Smotrich also celebrated news that the Israeli military’s Higher Planning Council was meeting to approve plans for over 5,000 new settler homes in the West Bank in a post to X.
And last week, the watchdog group released a tape recording revealing that Smotrich's party is planning to complete the transfer of management of settlement from “the military to civilian officials; the creation of a ‘legalization bypass route’ for settlement outposts; expanding the authorization of agricultural outposts; and cracking down on unauthorized Palestinian construction,” BBC reported.
Peace Now has accused Smotrich and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being “determined to fight against the entire world and against the interests of the people of Israel for the benefit of a handful of settlers”.
“Today, it is clear to everyone that this conflict cannot be resolved without a political settlement that establishes a Palestinian state alongside Israel,” the group said.
The entrance of the European Parliament in Brussels on December 9, 2022.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.02.2024
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