Israel confirmed on Thursday it was planning to appropriate a large tract of fertile land in the occupied West Bank, close to Jordan, a move likely to exacerbate tensions with Western allies and already drawing international condemnation.
In an email sent to Reuters, COGAT, a unit of the Defense Ministry, said the political decision to seize the territory had been taken and “the lands are in the final stages of being declared state lands”.
Israel’s Army Radio said on Wednesday that Israel plans to appropriate a large tract of agricultural land in the occupied West Bank, a move that has angered Palestinians and is almost certain to draw international criticism.
The report said the land, covering 154 hectares (380 acres), was in the fertile Jordan Valley close to Jericho, an area where Israel already has many settlement farms built on land Palestinians seek for their own state.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, described Israel’s reported move as a violation of international law. She challenged the international community to hold Israel to account.
“Israel is stealing land specially in the Jordan Valley under the pretext it wants to annex it,” she told Reuters. “This should be a reason for a real and effective intervention by the international community to end such a flagrant and grave aggression which kills all chances of peace.”