By LEA SPEYER—
The US condemned Israel on Sunday for its plan to appropriate some 1,000 acres of land in Judea and Samaria to state control.
The land is close to where three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists in June.
“We have long made clear our position to continued settlement activity,” a US State Department official told Reuters. “This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes…is counterproductive to Israel’s stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians.”
“We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,” the official added.
Israel’s military announced the decision on late Sunday in a statement saying, “On the instruction of the political echelon…4,000 dunams at Gvaot is declared state land.”
Those who wish to appeal the decision have 45 days. According to Ynet, the army said that the land in questions has never had any Palestinian claim of ownership.
Upon announcement of Israel’s plan, Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat called for diplomatic action against Israel. “The Israeli government is committing various crimes against the Palestinian people and their occupied land,” he told AFP.
Erekat beseeched the international community to hold Israel accountable for what he called war crimes against the Palestinian people.
“The international community should hold Israel accountable as soon as possible for its crimes and raids against our people in Gaza and the ongoing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” he said.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Israel’s decision and any future construction in Judea and Samaria. Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu-Rudeineh said that the move would “bring about a further deterioration” in peace talks between Israel and the PA.
“The settlement enterprise is illegal,” he stated.
Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai explained that the move to appropriate the land comes “as the continuation of the political leadership’s directives given at the end of Operation Brother’s Keeper.”
The Etzion council welcomed the news and said that the new land would allow them to expand the current city of Gvaot. In a statement released by the council, the appropriation of land “paves the way for the new city of Gvaot.”
“The goal of the murderers of those three youths was to sow fear among us, to disrupt our daily lives and to call into doubt our right to the land,” the statement said. “Our response is to strengthen settlement.”