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Israel seizes 115 dunams as 'state land' in northern West Bank

April 22, 2016 1:19 P.M. (Updated: April 23, 2016 10:40 A.M.)
(MaanImages/Anna Kokko, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli authorities have seized 115 dunams (28 acres) as "state land" in the northern occupied West Bank, Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said Thursday.

The watchdog confirmed earlier media reports that in its latest publication of amendments to past land seizures, Israel has confiscated 115 dunams in the village of al-Zawiya in the Salfit district -- in addition to 1,264 dunams (312 acres) already declared "state land" in the area.

The amendments, carried out by Israel's Blue Line Team, also said that 213 dunams (53 acres) were no longer considered "state land," although 30 dunams (7 acres) of this land has already been expropriated by Israel for the construction of a highway.

According to Peace Now, the latest land seizure takes place where a large new industrial zone -- Shaar HaShomron -- is being built inside occupied Palestinian territory.

The industrial zone is likely to fall under the jurisdiction of the Shomron Regional Council, which represents illegal settlements in the northern West Bank.

Peace Now noted that until recently, Israel's Blue Line Team, which makes amendments to state land declarations "inaccurately issued" in the 1980s and 1990s, was able to seize Palestinian land without landowners being given the chance to take legal action.

After landowners, together with Israeli human rights groups Bimkom and Yesh Din, petitioned the Israeli state, a new procedure was announced that would allow them to challenge the amendments.

However, this procedure does not allow for legal appeals to be made, but rather allows the landowners to submit "reservations."

Israeli seizures of Palestinian land have come under the spotlight in recent weeks, after Israel last month declared 2,342 dunams (580 acres) of land to the south of Jericho as "state land" to pave the way for the construction of 358 housing units in the illegal settlement of Almog.

The land grab followed another of around 5,000 dunams (1,240 acres) in Bethlehem district in 2014. Peace Now said it marked a return to an Israeli government policy not seen since the pre-Oslo period in the 1980s.

"Instead of trying to calm the situation, the government is adding fuel to the fire and sending a clear message to Palestinians, as well as to Israelis, that it has no intention to work towards peace and two states," the watchdog said.
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