Israel to appropriate West Bank land near Jericho…WORLD UNITED IN CONDEMNATION
International condemnation follows decision to seize 380 acres of fertile land close to Jordan border, with both the UN and US criticizing the move.
Israel confirmed on Thursday it was planning to appropriate a large tract of fertile land in the West Bank, close to Jordan, a move likely to exacerbate tensions with Western allies and already drawing international condemnation.
In an email sent to Reuters, COGAT, a unit of the Defence Ministry, said the political decision to seize the territory had been taken and “the lands are in the final stages of being declared state lands.”
The appropriation, first reported by Army Radio, covers 154 hectares (380 acres) in the Jordan Valley close to Jericho, an area where Israel already has many settlement farms built on land Palestinians seek for a state.
On Wednesday, Israel’s Civil Administration demolished seven illegal structures in the area surrounding Jericho, the construction of some of which was funded by the European Union.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on Wednesday denouncing the land seizure, which is the largest appropriation in the West Bank since August 2014.
“Settlement activities are a violation of international law and run counter to the public pronouncements of the Government of Israel supporting a two-state solution to the conflict,” Ban said in a statement.
The land, already partly farmed by Jewish settlers from Vered Yeriho in an area under Israeli civilian and military control, is situated near the northern tip of the Dead Sea. No Palestinians currently live there in the area, which is north of Kibbutz Almog.
Palestinian officials denounced the seizure on Wednesday, with Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, calling it a violation of international law.
“Israel is stealing land specially in the Jordan Valley under the pretext it wants to annex it,” she told Reuters. “This should be a reason for a real and effective intervention by the international community to end such a flagrant and
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