PLO slams Israel’s plan to seize private Palestinian land
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) says Israel is after stealing the entire Palestinian territories through confiscating more private land in the occupied West Bank.
In a statement released on Saturday, the PLO’s National Bureau to Defend Land warned of the “dangerous” consequences of a plan by the Tel Aviv regime to resettle evacuees from the illegal Amona settlement outpost in the central West Bank to a nearby privately-owned piece of Palestinian land.
The PLO said the “unprecedented” measure is aimed at “swallowing” more Palestinian land.
Recently, Israeli media reported that a committee tasked with relocating Amona settlers has proposed leasing the privately-held Palestinian properties near the outpost to the Israelis for three years, with possible extension.
Some 140 new illegal housing units are expected to be built on the Palestinian land, with 40 of them reserved for families evacuated from Amona. The Palestinian owners reportedly live abroad.
Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that the Amona settlement outpost is illegal and ordered the demolition of all its 41 settler units by the end of 2016.
The court has on several occasions ordered that Amona should be dismantled; however, Tel Aviv has repeatedly put off razing the site.
Established in 1997, Amona is the largest of about 100 unauthorized outposts in the occupied West Bank.
A partial evacuation a decade ago sparked violent clashes between settlers and Israeli forces.
Meanwhile, Israeli human rights watchdog Peace Now slammed the Israeli plan to grab more Palestinian land, saying it would “create an opening for the takeover of tens of thousands of dunams in the West Bank.
“The scope of absentees’ property is estimated at around 100,000 dunams (double the size of Tel Aviv and similar to the land taken up by all of the settlements today),” it added, warning that the move would constitute “the crossing of a red line” and pave the way for the construction of even more unauthorized settlements across the West Bank.
The picture taken on July 29, 2016 shows a general view of construction cranes and excavators at the site of new housing units in the illegal Israeli settlement of Gilo in East Jerusalem al-Quds. ©AFP
Israel “will crush the basic rights of Palestinians under its rule in the occupied territories, while violating international law — all out of the will to comply to the demands of a group of settlers that established an illegal outpost on stolen Palestinian land with the backing of the government,” the group added.
The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.
Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank including East al-Quds.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under the international law. Tel Aviv has defied calls to stop the settlement expansions in the occupied Palestinian territories.
A latest report by the Quartet on the Middle East called on the Israeli regime to halt its illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying the settlement expansion, the demolition of Palestinian homes and the expropriation of land were “steadily eroding the viability” of a solution to their conflict.