Israel appropriates massive tract of West Bank land

Takeover from five Palestinian villages is biggest West Bank land appropriation in 30 years, says Peace Now; settlers laud Netanyahu, Ya'alon, government.

Gush Etzion - AP - Sept. 9, 2010.
Construction work in Elazar, a settlement in the Gush Etzion bloc, in July 2010. / Photo by AP
By Chaim Levinson and Jack Khoury
Published 23:13 31.08.14

Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank yesterday announced the takeover of 988 acres (3,799 dunams) belonging to five Palestinian villages between the Etzion settlement bloc and Jerusalem. The move clears the way for construction of a new settlement named Gvaot.

The announcement follows the cabinet’s decision last week to take over the land in response to the June kidnapping and killing of three teenage Jewish boys by Hamas militants in the area.

Israel to appropriate 3,799 dunams (988 acres) of West Bank land, Aug. 31, 2014.
Israel to appropriate 3,799 dunams (988 acres) of West Bank land, Aug. 31, 2014. / Photo by Haaretz

Peace Now, which monitors settlement construction, said it was the largest Israeli appropriation of West Bank land in 30 years.

David Perl, head of the Gush Etzion local council, said the “declaration of some 4,000 dunams as state land paves the way for the establishment of Gvaot, a new city in Gush Etzion. I want to congratulate the prime minister and the government of Israel on their promotion of the initiative, and the defense minister and head of the civil administration on getting the decision approved.”

The appropriated land belongs to five Palestinian villages in the Bethlehem area: Jaba, Surif, Wadi Fukin, Husan and Nahalin.

The move is the latest of a series of plans designed to attach the Etzion settlement bloc to Jerusalem and its environs. Construction of a major settlement, known as Gvaot, at the location has been mooted by Israel since the year 2000. Last year, the government invited bids for the building of 1,000 housing units at the site, and 523 are currently under construction. Ten families now live on the site, which is adjacent to a yeshiva.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told IDF Radio last night that the timing of the announcement was inappropriate. “Israel now needs to be recruiting the world to prevent steps being taken against it, and to work together with those moderate forces” she said. “Anything that can turn attention toward us and arouse criticism against us hurts the very things we are trying to achieve.”

Palestinian officials did not seem very surprised last night by the Israeli cabinet decision. Immediately after last week’s cease-fire, Haaretz reported that senior officials in the Palestinian Authority were turning to the United Nations and the European Union warning that Israel was taking steps whose goal was to strengthen its hold on territories beyond the Green Line.

“It’s been proven that this government has no intention of moving forward with the peace process,” one senior PA official told Haaretz.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, called on Israel yesterday to cancel the takeover. “This decision will lead to more instability. This will only inflame the situation after the war in Gaza,” Abu Rudeineh said.

Israel maintains that construction at Gvaot would not constitute a new settlement because the area is officially designated a neighborhood of a long-standing settlement, Alon Shvut. However, the area of Gvaot lies several miles away from Alon Shvut.

Moshe foreach

comments

Add Comment

Thank you

Your talkback has been submitted successfully.
If selected for publication, it will appear as soon as possible on Haaretz.com.

please wait...

  • 8.
    West Bank
    To quote you referring to the West Bank let me remind you that The West Bank Belongs to The Palestinian People. !! not "Israeli's West Bank land appropriations !! This is the way you think! This is the way then think! No matter what happened during the War that Israel started as a sneak attack the Land of the West Bank belongs to Palestine...We are in the process of letting the world know this. We have come a long way so Far. Now we are global and things are much easier. So lets begin to fly right, because the more time goes on the more powerful we become,,,, BDS BDS BDS BDS BDS
  • 7.
    West Bank
    To quote you referring to the West Bank let me remind you that The West Bank Belongs to The Palestinian People. !! not "Israeli's West Bank land appropriations !! This is the way you think! This is the way then think! No matter what happened during the War that Israel started as a sneak attack the Land of the West Bank belongs to Palestine...We are in the process of letting the world know this. We have come a long way so Far. Now we are global and things are much easier. So lets begin to fly right, because the more time goes on the more powerful we become,,,, BDS BDS BDS BDS BDS
  • 6.
    land taking
    Miko Peled speaks the truth about the true intent of this Israeli gov't and the complicit US who is willing to host( as in parasite and host ) Zionist intentions. He exposes the myths that allow for these sadistic "wars" in which the Palestinians get to experience what new weapons do to unnarmed and unshielded humanity. Let Miko expllain what is really going on on You Tube and hang your head in shame if you ahve supported this outrageous and continuing behavior.
  • 5.
    The so called huge amount of land amounts to roughly 2 km x 2 km that is adjacent to a Jewish settlement that will remain in the Israeli
    hands under any peace deal. Definitely more important news than 200,000 dead in Syria. LOL
  • 4.
    in case we had any doubts...
    Yet another reminder of Netanyahu's true--warped and disgraceful--priorities. Some hoped the latest round of hostilities might finally prompt him to grow up. But he'll always be this way. He needs to get booted out so the grownups can seek a way out of this endless, pointless mess.
  • 3.
    the land
    If you want the land you just take the land. There is no need to make lame excuses.. You could even name it "Obamaland" after that 21st century idealist.
  • 2.
    Theft
    ...that's all it is.
  • 1.
    Question
    According to all peace plans between the Palestinians and Israelis, isn't Gush Etzion going to be part of Israel? If so, why is building there different from building anywhere else in Israel Proper?
  • No Correct
    Gush Etzion is and will not be Israel proper, neither is this land grab.