West Bank Land Seizure Is Israel's Biggest in Decades

Appropriation seen as revenge for murder of Israeli teens

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 31, 2014 10:56 PM CDT | Updated Sep 1, 2014 3:42 AM CDT

(Newser) – In a move the US calls "counterproductive," Israel has made a huge land seizure in the West Bank and is expected to use it to expand Jewish settlements. The Israeli anti-settlement group Americans for Peace Now says the 990-acre seizure in an area called the Etzion bloc—one of the parts of the West Bank that Israel wants to keep under any future deal with the Palestinians—is the biggest appropriation of its kind since the 1980s, the Los Angeles Times reports. A spokesman for the group calls the move a "stab in the back" to Palestinian moderates.

The appropriation is being seen as revenge for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the area in June, which sparked the recent fighting in Gaza, Voice of America notes. Israel says the area has been declared "state land" not owned by Palestinians, the New York Times reports, but the local mayor says the area is planted with olive trees and belongs to Palestinian families. A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority says the move will "further deteriorate the situation," and officials will seek to have the decision reversed.

A Palestinian waves a national flag in front of Israeli soldiers during a protest against the building of settlements at Gush Etzion junction, near the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
A Palestinian waves a national flag in front of Israeli soldiers during a protest against the building of settlements at Gush Etzion junction, near the West Bank town of Bethlehem.   (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
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