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Monitor: Israel to confiscate 1,200 dunams of land in Nablus district

March 21, 2016 1:17 P.M. (Updated: March 23, 2016 3:43 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- The Israeli Civil Administration is planning to confiscate 1,200 dunams (296.5 acres) of land from Palestinian villages in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, a local monitor said Monday.

Ghassan Dhaglas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank for the Palestinian Authority, told Ma’an that Israeli authorities gave Palestinian residents of the villages of al-Lubban al-Sharqiya, al-Sawiya, and Qaryut an official notice to confiscate 1,200 dunams of land.

According to the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem, Israeli authorities over the decades have seized land near Qaryut to establish the illegal settlements of Eli, Shilo, and Mizpe Rahel, at least ten settlement outposts, as well as two military bases.

Daghlas said the confiscation of Palestinian lands constituted a real danger to the peace process, and urged the international community to act to stop the practice.

However, a spokesperson for Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT)‪ said in response by email that the claim that 1,200 dunams had been confiscated was "incorrect."

The email, which was not entirely clear in its wording, said that while examining the borders of the illegal Israeli settlement of Eli, COGAT had found that 541 dunams (134 acres) "should be subtracted" -- or not included as "state land" -- while 612 dunams (151 acres) "should be added."

COGAT said "the status of the subtracted lands will be determined in accordance with the protocols," saying it had been brought to "the public's attention," allowing residents of Eli settlement to appeal to Israel's Civil Administration.

Earlier this month, Israel declared 2,342 dunams (580 acres) of land south of Jericho "state land,” in a decision that far surpassed the 1,500 dunams (370 acres) initially approved for takeover by Israel’s Minister of Defense in January.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said Thursday that the "systematic land grab" constituted "a flagrant violation of international law."

"The Israeli government is not interested in peace," Hamdallah said, according to a statement issued by his office. "It rather implement(s) a policy designed to prevent the formation of a contiguous Palestinian state."

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