News / Middle East

Britain 'Deplores’ Israeli Claim of West Bank Land

FILE - British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says seizing West Bank land would 'do serious damage' to Israel's international standing.
FILE - British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says seizing West Bank land would 'do serious damage' to Israel's international standing.
VOA News

The British government says Israel's expropriation of a large swath of land inside the occupied West Bank would "do serious damage to Israel’s standing in the international community."

On Sunday, Israel laid claim to about 400 hectares in the area of Gush Etzion near Bethlehem in what critics say is Israel’s biggest land grab in at least 30 years.

"The U.K. deplores the Israeli government's move," British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said, adding that "the priority must be to build on the cease-fire in Gaza."

Map of Israel, Gaza and the West BankMap of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank
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Map of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank
Map of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank

The U.S. State Department on Sunday called for Tel Aviv to reconsider its decision and said taking the land would be "counterproductive" to peace efforts in the region.

Land seizure "is counterproductive to Israel’s stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians," said a senior official, who requested anonymity.

Since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, his administration has made clear its opposition to settlement expansion. It is the latest stumbling block in the relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.   

Egypt denounces claim

On Monday, Egypt’s foreign ministry also decried the move. Egypt last week brokered the truce halting the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas, which killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 68 Israelis and left parts of the Gaza Strip in ruin.

"This is not a positive step. It contradicts international law and will have negative consequences on the peace process," a statement from Cairo said, according to the AFP news service.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the move as part of what he calls Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people and their occupied land.

Israel's army said it declared the land "state-owned" under orders from political leaders. It is in reaction to the June kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teenagers near Bethlehem.

Israel has named three Palestinians as suspects. The murders and the revenge killing of a Palestinian teen by Israelis helped spark the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Some information for this report was provided by the AFP news service.

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by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
September 02, 2014 1:55 AM
This is perfectly measured response to 64 Israeli military officers killed by Hamas, right?
In Response

by: Martin Goldman
September 02, 2014 2:00 PM
Vincent, living in a comfort zone safe from the perils of war makes one immune from harm - don't sweat the small stuff, visit Israel and "wizen" up on the conflict. Hamas is funded by several external sources regarding their weaponry and maybe you will realise the real problem. Shalom.
In Response

by: Vincent Vincent-James
September 02, 2014 8:09 AM
All our Western rulers, (Obama, Cameron, Canadian and Australian rulers are the best example), would continue to serve the interest of the Jewish minority in their respective countries, and the interest of the country of their 'First-Loyalty' as long as the following political system remains intact in the West. It needs to, it has to change to SAVE democracy itself.

As long as the Jewish minority in particular is allowed to fund-raise for ALL political Parties, and to make personal and business donations, and bribe politicians with 'directorships' in their businesses, the Jewish, (CFI in the UK and AIPAC in the USA) and Israeli stranglehold on the USA and on all Western democracies would continue to cause conflicts, wars, spread prejudice and hatred among the Gentile through deliberate Jewish monopoly of all mediums of Gentiles 'Thought-Control', the press, media, film and publishing industries.

For a decade, I have been highlighting the real cause of this tiniest of 'Gold-Pot' owning minority's stranglehold on all our Western Democracies, which would END overnight if every Western country makes all personal and business donations to political parties and individual politicians, and awarding of directorships to politicians a criminal offence with 10 years minimum behind bars.

by: kaygee1 from: USA
September 01, 2014 10:29 PM
This land was part of the Etzion bloc before the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea and Samaria a/k/a as the West Bank and the old city of Jerusalem. It was never owned by any Palestinians and they have no claim on it now. As to expropriation, it has not been expropriated from owners as it was ownerless. As to the protestations of the Palestinians in the area, they didn't refuse to take over the Etzion bloc laand in 1948 did they?

by: Anna from: UK
September 01, 2014 2:33 PM
Israel must be taking a leaf out of England's book, the jolly old brits got away with it in many lands.
In Response

by: CJR
September 02, 2014 11:00 AM
Anna, yes. Sadly however Rhodesia was abandoned and look what happened, the world stood by along with the USA and other Western countries, and the rest sadly, was utterly tragic. Do some research to and see what happened to a country that supported Britain in both World Wars with its manpower, many of whom were never to return.

by: C. Richardson from: Austin, Texas
September 01, 2014 2:27 PM
Another example of collective punishment by Israel. The land never belonged to Hamas but is taken from other Palestinians to punish Hamas. So is Israel going to give back land to the Palestinians because Israelis burned to death a Palestinian young man? Also, why have they not destroyed the homes of the Jewish perpetrators of that murder (as they did to Palestinian homes)?

by: Rose Lawson Steinmeier
September 01, 2014 2:24 PM
Yeah, deplore. Now what are you willing to do, other than mouth words, to stop Israel's theft of Palestinians'? land

by: Robert Twic from: Vancouver, Canada
September 01, 2014 2:20 PM
The 'West-Bank' can b taken as disputed territory as Israel never gave up its claim to it after the 1948 War, started by the attack upon it by 4 Arab countries. The West Bank reflects armistice-lines ONLY, not borders from that war, not someone-else's country. Before the 1967 War, it was controlled unoccupied by Jordan, who lost it to Israel in that 1967 War. @ that time, a Palestinian state had never existed; so the land was 'up for grabs' by whomever controlled it - Jordan, prior to that war, and, Israel, after that war.

by: will from: ottawa canada
September 01, 2014 2:15 PM
It is all well and good to "deplore" this blatant theft of Palestinian land and call it "counterproductive" but the real question is when will Britain, the United States and Canada stop supporting the gangsters who currently run Israel and impose meaningful sanctions on the country.

by: George Falke from: Canada
September 01, 2014 1:49 PM
Is this also part of Israels right to defend itself?

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