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Israel approves 7,000 new settler homes in West Bank Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Israel approves 7,000 new settler homes in West Bank

The decision came three days after Palestinians’ latest claim to the land was rejected [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 May, 2020

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Israel has approved the expansion of a West Bank settlement, signalling a defeat for the Palestinians' repeated attempts to claim the land through legal channels.

Israel has approved the construction of 7,000 new homes in a move to expand a West Bank settlement, the country's defense ministry announced Wednesday.

Israeli defense minister Naftali Bennett announced his approval of "thousands" of new housing units in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, expanding the settlement by approximately 272 acres.

"I instructed the defense establishment to continue to strengthen the settlement resolutely," tweeted Bennett. "Construction should not be stopped for a moment."

According to Haaretz, Bennett’s decision came only three days after the Palestinians’ latest demand that the land be given to them was rejected.

The land's allocation has long been the subject of court proceedings, as Palestinians have continuously attempted to halt the settlement's expansion.

Palestinians initially argued the land was ineligible to be designated as a "state land", as they had been farming it continuously, according to Haaretz. An administrative appeals court accepted the claim with regards to only approximately 25 acres of land.

In a subsequent petition to the High Court, the Palestinians later said the land was being expropriated so it could be transferred to Efrat. The petition was rejected in 2016.

In 2018, Israel announced the land has been allocated to its housing ministry so as to plan a new Efrat neighborhood.

In 2019, Palestinians living near the settlement, along with Israeli NGO Peace Now, asked Israel's civil administration in the West Bank to grant the land to the Palestinians, according to Haaretz.

In their request, the Palestinians said they wanted the land allocated for Palestinian development, adding they had worked the land for years, thus having a stronger claim to it than Efrat residents.

Data obtained through a freedom of information request by Peace Now and the Movement for Freedom of Information demonstrated that Palestinians had only been given 0.25 percent of state land allocated in the West Bank since 1967.

The Civil Administration rejected the Palestinians' request on Sunday.

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