Anti-settler group says Israel has made largest land grab in West Bank in 3 decades


JERUSALEM (AP) — An anti-settlement watchdog says Israel has approved the largest seizure of land in the occupied West Bank in more than three decades.

Peace Now said Wednesday that authorities recently approved the allocation of 12.7 square kilometers (nearly 5 square miles) of land in the Jordan Valley. The group’s data indicates it was the largest single allocation approved since the 1993 Oslo Accords at the start of the peace process.

The measure, approved late last month but only announced on Wednesday, follows the seizure of 8 square kilometers (about 3 square miles) of land in the West Bank in March and 2.6 square kilometers (1 square mile) in February.

This makes 2024 by far the peak year for Israeli land seizures in the West Bank, according to Peace Now.

The Palestinians see the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank as the biggest obstacle to a lasting peace agreement. Most of the international community considers the settlements illegal or illegitimate.

The Israeli government considers the West Bank to be the historical and religious heartland of the Jewish people and opposes Palestinian state formation.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians want all three areas for a future state.

Israel has built over 100 settlements in the West Bank, some of which resemble fully developed suburbs or small towns. They are home to over 500,000 Jewish settlers who hold Israeli citizenship. The West Bank’s 3 million Palestinians live under seemingly unlimited Israeli military rule.

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