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.