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Israel is annexing new areas of the West Bank.

Israel is annexing new areas of the West Bank.

July 4, 2024 – 9:49 PM

Under a government decision announced Wednesday, Israel will expropriate another 12.7 square kilometers of the West Bank, the non-governmental organization Beket Most reported. It is the largest single expropriation in the past 30 years.

Israeli construction authorities approved the construction of another 5,300 settlements in the West Bank and the sale of more than 500 apartments already built on Wednesday and Thursday, MTI reported. “We will build and develop settlements – and we will remove them,” Finance Minister Bekalel Szmotrich, who is also the minister responsible for the West Bank in the Defense Ministry, said, according to the news portal of the right-wing Makor Rison newspaper. “The danger posed by the establishment of a Palestinian state. Last week, we presented five settlements located in strategic areas, including Avitar, to the cabinet for approval, and we will add to that the approval of thousands of apartments and the nationalization of tens of thousands of acres of land.”

In the year and a half since Szmotrics took over, a total of 21,700 apartments were approved for construction in the West Bank and around 2,600 were approved for sale. Previously, during the three years from the beginning of 2020 to the end of 2022, less than 20,000 apartments were approved for construction.

“This is a comprehensive and wide-ranging operation aimed at thwarting the Palestinian state plan,” the minister said. “We are always, but especially today, committed to developing this region and to disrupting the discourse about a Palestinian state that rewards terrorism.”

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The essence of the confiscation is that Israel is gradually confiscating the lands of Palestinians living in the West Bank and building Israeli settlements in their place. The current confiscation concerns areas necessary to create an Israeli corridor that will divide the West Bank in two. According to civil society organizations, if the West Bank is completely divided, it will be difficult to establish a Palestinian state.

Occupying another country’s territory and building such settlements are contrary to international law, and Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal by many countries. In March, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that land grabs were “counterproductive” to lasting peace.

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