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Israel Approves New Parcel of West Bank Land for Settlement Expansion

Israel Approves New Parcel of West Bank Land for Settlement Expansion

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced on Friday the declaration of 800 hectares of land in the occupied West Bank as state territory, a move intended to facilitate settlement construction.


This declaration, made on the same day US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Israel for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, underscores the Israeli government’s commitment to advancing settlement activities in the West Bank despite increasing international opposition.

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The Palestinian authorities condemned the announcement, denouncing efforts to undermine their right to the territories of Judea and Samaria, commonly referred to as the West Bank in Israel.

The designation of 1,976 acres of land in the Jordan Valley as state territory follows a similar move designating 300 hectares (740 acres) in the Maale Adumim area of the West Bank. These areas are considered crucial by Palestinians for their envisioned independent state.

Last month, the United States criticized Israel’s expansion of settlements in the West Bank, asserting that such actions are inconsistent with international law. This marked a reversal of the previous administration’s policy under Donald Trump and aligned the US with the majority of the international community, which views these settlements as illegal. Israel, however, disputes this position, citing historical and Biblical connections to the land.

The Palestinians view the expansion of settlements across the West Bank as a deliberate Israeli strategy aimed at thwarting their aspirations for statehood, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the recent land declaration, describing it as part of ongoing efforts to displace Palestinians from their homeland and criticizing the international community for failing to hold Israel accountable.

Bezalel Smotrich, a prominent figure in one of Netanyahu’s hard-right pro-settler parties, resides in a settlement himself and has consistently supported settlement expansion.

Efforts to achieve a two-state solution, with an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, have faced mounting international pressure, particularly amid attempts to end the protracted conflict in Gaza. However, progress towards Palestinian statehood has been minimal since the signing of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, with expanding Israeli settlements serving as a major obstacle.