Israel seizes West Bank land

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Israel has seized 425 acres of Palestinian land in the West Bank in order to build 2,500 new settlement homes according to Israeli officials. This comes after United States Special Envoy George Mitchell asked for a freeze on settlement expansion which is deemed illegal under international law.

The seized land will be integrated into the Israeli city of Efrat, a city which is to house 30,000 people according to the mayor of Efrat.

Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni has stated that in order to make peace, settlement expansion must stop and furthermore Israeli settlers should leave lands already settled in. Livni's party, Kadima, beat the right wing Likud party in elections last week by one parliament seat, not enough to form the required majority. Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that he firmly supports settlement expansion and has said that peace talks with Palestinians are a waste of time.

Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president in the West Bank, has previously stated that there will be no negotiations as long as settlement expansion continues. "We oppose settlement activity in principle, and if the settlement activity doesn't stop, any meetings (with the Israelis) will be worthless," Abbas said Monday.

Israeli human rights group Yesh Din has stated that these settlements are a violation of international law, saying that the occupying power is supposed to work for the benefit of the people being occupied. The United Nations agrees saying that the settlements are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international law.


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