Thousands of Acres in Judea and Samaria Will Become State Land: ‘Not Beneficial’ Says US

On Monday, the U.S. criticized the decision to announce that close to 4,000 acres in Judea and Samaria would become state land, stating that this announcement is not beneficial to peace efforts. The U.S. called on the Israeli government to reverse its decision. A senior official in the U.S. State Department criticized the announcement: “We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity … This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes, planning step they approve and construction tender they issue, is counterproductive to Israel’s stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians.”

The U.K. government joined in the criticism of this announcement. “The U.K. deplores the Israeli government’s expropriation of 988 acres of land around the settlement of Etzion near Bethlehem,” said U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. “This is a particularly ill-judged decision that comes at a time when the priority must be to build on the ceasefire in Gaza.”

The government of France joined the U.S. and U.K. this evening in criticizing the annexation, and called on Israel to revoke its decision. The foreign ministry of France released a statement declaring that: “France opposes the Israeli authorities’ decision to annex land in the Bethlehem area for the purpose of constructing a neighboring settlement. Israel must revoke this decision.”

The foreign office in Cairo also criticized Israel’s declaration and stated, “This is not a positive step — it contradicts international law and will have negative consequences on the peace process.” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined the denunciation and stated this evening that he is troubled by Israel’s land grab; he added that construction of the settlements opposes the aspiration for a two-state solution.

The office of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, responded in short to the Israeli announcement. Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said that the decision needs to be revoked and that this decision only causes harm and further complicates political prospects. He highlighted that the settlement system is illegal and violates international law.

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