Israel approves largest land seizure in West Bank in decades

Jerusalem: Israeli authorities have approved the appropriation of 12.7 square km of land in the occupied West Bank, marking the largest single appropriation in about three decades, an Israeli settlement monitor group has said.

Peace Now, an Israeli-based settlement watchdog, said in a statement on Wednesday that the Custodian of the State’s Property in the Civil Administration, an Israeli body that approves construction in the West Bank, recently declared the seizure of this large land in the Jordan Valley, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the group, this is the largest area designated for appropriation since the Oslo Accords, a set of peace agreements signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993.

In 2024 alone, about 23.7 square km of the West Bank lands have been declared “State Lands” by Israel, reported Peace Now.

The declaration of “State Land” in the West Bank is a bureaucratic procedure used by the Israeli government to revoke Palestinian ownership rights to the declared lands, which would be leased exclusively to Israelis, for reshaping land use and building settlements.

Israel seized the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war and expanded settlements there ever since. The international community widely considers the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, where the Palestinians wish to establish their future state, an obstacle to achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The move is likely to stoke further tensions in the region, which is already experiencing increasing violence following Israel’s onslaught in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for Hamas’ attack on southern Israel on October 7 last year. IANS