JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities announced Sunday that a land of 4,000 dunam (four square km) used as a settlement in the West Bank would be turned into state land and the government would acknowledge it as a new Israeli community.
There is no ownership claimed by Palestinians over these specific lands, Israeli authorities said, adding that there will be a period of 45 days, in which objections against the decision could be filed. There is currently a settlement in the area of Gva’ot, near Gush Ezion in the West Bank, which is built without proper permits. While, with the announcement, the settlement will be turned into part of Israeli lands. The decision was made following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens at the same are in June when Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said a new settlement will be established in the area. West Bank settlements are considered illegal by the international community and prevent a territorial continuity to the Palestinian territories in the West Bank. “The announcement paves the way to the establishment of the new city of Gva’ot”, David Perl, head of the Gush Etzion regional council, told the Ynet news website. The move is a blow to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Yariv Oppenheimer, head of the Peace Now, a left-wing non- governmental organization, which monitors Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank. “It is sending the message to the Palestinian people that the government of Israel is negotiating with Hamas, while at the same time destroying any chance to reach a true accord with moderate people,” Oppenheimer told Ynet.
Israel occupied the West Bank during the 1967 Mideast War and annexed east Jerusalem where are slated to be part of a future Palestinian state. In June, following the establishment of the Palestinian unity government, Israel announced in response the immediate marketing of 1,500 new housing units in the settlements.
According to a report by the Peace Now non-governmental organization in April, Israel had issued a record number of 4,868 housing units in the West Bank and east Jerusalem settlements between July 2013 and April 2014, during which Israel and the Palestinian Authority underwent the U.S.-mediated peace negotiations.
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