NABLUS (Ma’an) -- The Israeli government passed an official order on Wednesday, issuing the confiscation of three dunams and 989 square meters of Palestinian lands in the Palestinian village of Asira al-Qibliya south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank.
Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an the order indicated that Israel will confiscate 3,989 square meters of lands in the village belonging to Palestinian residents.
The Israeli government claimed in the order that the confiscation of the land was in order to ‘“stop terror attacks” in the area, despite the fact that the area, according to Daghlas, has witnessed a calm situation with no recent attacks conducted in the area, or by residents of the village.
Daghlas added that he considered the order to be in defiance of United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC
) resolution that condemned settlement activity and considered it as a main obstacle facing the two state solution, though it remained unclear if the Israeli government has put forth plans for an illegal Israeli settlement on the area of confiscated lands.
However, the Bethlehem-based Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem has noted that Israeli land confiscations in Asira al-Qibliya have previously been repurposed for the construction of Israeli settlements, military checkpoints, and settler outposts, including 495 dunams of land (122 acres) that were confiscated for the establishment of the Yitzhar settlement, on the eastern side of the village.
Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesperson Yousif al-Mahmoud condemned the order in a statement, saying that “this horrid step” was made as a response to efforts carried out to revive the [Israeli-Palestinian] peace process, noting that the peace process aims to end the Israeli occupation and establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Al-Mahmoud reiterated Daghlas’ sentiments that the order was issued in defiance of the latest anti-settlement UNSC resolution, and confirmed that Israeli settlements remained “the main obstacle to the two-state solution and the main reason preventing the peace process from taking place.”
A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territory, was not immediately available for comment.
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A recent report by Israeli rights group B’Tselem argued that under the guise of a "temporary military occupation," Israel has been "using the land as its own: robbing land, exploiting the area’s natural resources for its own benefit and establishing permanent settlements," estimating that Israel had dispossessed Palestinians from some 200,000 hectares (494,211 acres) of lands in the occupied Palestinian territory over the years.
B’Tselem highlighted the “key role” of Israeli settlers in further isolating Palestinians from their lands, either through the establishment of outposts officially unrecognized by the Israeli government, or through the regular use of violence or threats of violence against Palestinians.
The movement of Israeli settlers taking over Palestinian land, and further displacing the local Palestinian population has been a "stable" Israeli policy since the takeover of the West Bank and Jerusalem in 1967, B'Tselem said, underscoring that all "Israeli legislative, legal, planning, funding, and defense bodies" have played an active role in the dispossession of Palestinians from their lands, despite the international community pinpointing settlements as one of the major obstacles to peace.