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Israel to announce largest land seizure in the West Bank since 2014

Jordan Valley
AFP
The 370 acres of land lies north of the West Bank settlement of Almog in the Jordan Valley near Jericho

Israel will announce the seizure of 370 acres of agricultural land in the West Bank near the Palestinian city of Jericho as state lands, The Times of Israel reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, which was first reported by Israel's Army Radio, the land seizure is the largest since August 2014 when the government appropriated nearly 1,000 acres of land in the West Bank near the location where three Israeli teens were kidnapped and murdered a few months earlier.

The land which will be appropriated is north of the West Bank settlement of Almog in the Jordan Valley and has been used by Israeli farmers in recent years.

The plan, which is awaiting final approval, has been confirmed by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Defense Ministry body which serves as the Civil Administration in the West Bank, saying in a statement that "in conjunction with the decision made by the political echelon of Israel, and experts in the field, these lands were permitted to be announced as state owned land, and are currently undergoing the final steps in that process."

But the plan "is a very sensitive issue which will likely garner harsh critique from Europe and the United States, and of course from the Palestinian Authority,” the report said.

The land seizure comes amid heightened tensions with the European Union, which earlier this week said in a declaration that its agreements with Israel do not apply to settlements. Jerusalem and Washington also clashed this past week when the US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro said that Washington was "concerned and perplexed" by Israel’s settlement policy which he said raised "honest questions about Israel’s long-term intentions."

The ambassador noted that Israel "must develop stronger, more credible responses to questions about the rule of law in the West Bank."

Israel has previously used an 1858 Ottaman law which states that land that lies uncultivated for several years can be reverted to government property as the legal basis to justify such moves.

-Herzog: No two-state solution, for now-

Meanwhile Israeli opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog said that under the current conditions a two-state solution with the Palestinians was impossible, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

“I wish to separate from as many Palestinians as possible, as quickly as possible” Herzog said at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. Instead, he said, several Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem should be separated from the rest of the city and the separation barrier in the West Bank should be completed to include all settlement blocs.

"The separation barrier will prevent attacks in the settlement blocs that remain in our hands," Herzog said.

"They will be over there and we will be over here; we’ll erect a big wall between us. That is the kind of co-existence that’s possible now. You exist there and we exist here. Ariel Sharon did the right thing when he put up the fence that prevented the infiltration of suicide bombers, but he didn’t finish the job. We want to finish it, to complete the barrier that separates us. We call it the establishment of a security line, the red line … Israel must part from Netanyahu so that it becomes possible to part from the Palestinians."

Israel and the Palestinians are in the midst of a third intifada, Herzog said, adding that "if we continue denying the truth it can become an intifada that’s crueler than the preceding ones, an intifada in the spirit of IS. But here people are still dreaming."

"Two nations with such a strong national consciousness, both claiming this land, can never live together in one state at peace. The nightmare in which Netanyahu is ‘managing the conflict’ blew up in our faces and stabbed all of us."

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"I thought the blood of Menachem Begin Z' L', flows in your veins"? Wasn't he himself a butcher and terrorist? His(Netanyahu) people are secure in Israel ... any attacks on Israelis in the West Bank are the result of his policies!

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