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Israel to confiscate more land in northern West Bank

Three villages in the Nablus district were given 45 days notice before Israeli authorities will confiscate their lands
A Palestinian protester, holding a national flag, runs away from tear gas smoke during clashes with Israeli security forces following a march on 19 February 2016 in the West Bank village of Bilin (AFP)

The Israeli government on Monday issued notices to seize nearly 300 acres of land from Palestinian villages in the northern Nablus governorate, threatening to cut them off from the rest of the West Bank.

Official notices were handed to the villages in the northern West Bank to confiscate 1,200 dunams (296.5 acres), or roughly equivalent to 230 football pitches, said a local monitor.

The villages Lubban al-Sharqiya, Qaryut and Sawiya, which all lie in the Nablus governorate, were given 45 days’ notice before the confiscation is set to take place.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors Israeli settlement activity, told local media that the land lies close to the settlements of Eli, Shilo and Mizpe Rahel.

Israeli authorities are most likely to annex the land to the settlements, Daghlas added, pointing out how the massive land confiscation will only serve to further escalate tensions and derail any peace process.

Jamal Juma, the coordinator for the Stop the Wall grassroots body, said that these land confiscations occur in places where Israel is planning to divide up the West Bank. 

"In a way, they are cutting off the West Bank with this latest announcement because the lands are located in a strategic area," Juma said.

"They lie next to the Green Line on one side and extend all the way to the Jordan Valley. If carried out, this will mean that the entire north of the West Bank will be cut off from the middle of the West Bank."

International law considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal.

Yet the Israeli government has continued on this confiscation despite pressures from the United States and the United Nations to halt it.

Last week, Israel declared over 2,300 dunums of land in Jericho as “state lands” which are then usually granted to Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

"The Israeli government is not interested in peace," Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said at the time. "It rather implement[s] a policy designed to prevent the formation of a contiguous Palestinian state."

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