West Bank colonialism: Israel steals more Palestinian land
Palestinians walk along a damaged road following an Israeli operation in Nur Shams refugee camp, near the West Bank town of Tulkarem, July 1, 2024. | AP 

Israel has approved the largest seizure of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank in over three decades, an anti-settlement watchdog revealed Wednesday.

Peace Now said that authorities had recently approved the appropriation of nearly five square miles of land in the Jordan Valley. The group’s data indicate that it is the largest single appropriation approved since the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Settler violence against Palestinians has surged in the West Bank since Israel’s invasion of Gaza, which has so far killed more than 37,000 people.

The land seizure, which was approved late last month but only publicized Wednesday, follows the seizure of roughly three square miles of land in the West Bank in March and one square mile in February. That makes 2024 by far the peak year for Israeli land seizures in the occupied West Bank, Peace Now said.

The parcels of land are contiguous and located northeast of the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered. By declaring them state lands, the Israeli government has opened them up to being leased to Israelis and prohibited private Palestinian ownership.

Palestinians view the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank as one of the main barriers to any lasting peace agreement. Most countries consider them illegal.

Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, but the Palestinians want those territories for a future state. Israel’s current government considers the West Bank part of “Greater Israel” and is opposed to Palestinian statehood.

Israel has built well over 100 settlements across the West Bank, some of which resemble fully developed suburbs or small towns. They are home to over 500,000 Jewish settlers who have Israeli citizenship, while the three million Palestinians in the West Bank live under open-ended Israeli military rule.

The Palestinian Authority administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank but is barred from operating in 60% of the territory, where the settlements are located.

Prominent human rights organizations have pointed to Israel’s rule in the West Bank in accusing it of the international crime of apartheid, allegations that Israel rejects as an attack on its legitimacy.

Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has turbocharged land seizures and settlement construction since gaining expanded powers over Israel’s administration of the occupied territory under the current governing coalition, which is the most politically extreme in Israeli history.

Morning Star


Roger McKenzie
Roger McKenzie

Roger McKenzie is the International Editor of Morning Star, Britain’s daily socialist newspaper. He is the author of the book "African Uhuru: The Fight for African Freedom in the Rise of the Global South" published by Manifesto Press.