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
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.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs