Amnesty International says the Israeli authorities’ plan to expropriate nearly 1,000 acres of land in the West Bank as 'outrageous' and illegal and that it must be rescinded immediately.
The plans, announced on 31 August by the Israeli military-run Civil Administration, would directly affect at least five Palestinian villages in the Bethlehem area.
Israel is appropriating the land based on its interpretation of a law dating back to the Ottoman era which declares an area 'state land' if it has not been cultivated or farmed for several consecutive years. Around 40 per cent of the West Bank has already been classified by Israel as 'state' land.
This latest appropriation appears to be the largest land grab in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since the 1980s.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said: “Israel’s strategy of illegally confiscating land for settlements in the West Bank must stop once and for all.
“Not only is it illegal under international law but it is leading to a wide range of violations of Palestinians’ human rights on a mass scale.
“Reports that the Israeli cabinet justified this land grab as a reaction to the deplorable murder in June of three Israeli teenagers, suggests this is an act of collective punishment and that Israel is moving further and further away from its obligations under international law.”