State Department slams Jericho land demarcation

US State Dept. says Israeli acquisition of 15 dunams 'calls into question' its commitment to two states; UN's Ban says he is 'worried.'

Raphael Poch,

Ban Ki-Moon
Ban Ki-Moon
Reuters

The US State Department strongly criticized an Israeli initiative to declare 1500 dunams (371 acres) of land north of the town of Almog as Israeli state land.

“We strongly oppose any steps that could accelerate settlement expansion and we believe they’re fundamentally incompatible with a two-state solution and call into question frankly the Israeli government’s commitment to a two-state solution,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon released a statement on Wednesday night asserting he "worried" over the move, and that he urged Israel to improve relations with the Palestinians.

Ban also stressed that establishing new "settlements" is a direct violation of international law.

As a legal basis for similar moves in the past, Israel has utilized a 1858 Ottoman law which states that land that lies fallow for several years may revert to government property.

It is important to note that many land laws in the Middle East date back to the Ottoman period and are still used as the legal precedent of the day, often being used to apply in favor of the Palestinians, while at other times in favor of Israel.

The announcement of the land demarcation came via Army Radio on Wednesday

In a statement made by the Coordination of Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT) branch of the IDF, the spokesperson said, "in conjunction with the decision made by the political echelon of Israel, and experts in the field, these lands were permitted to be announced as state owned land, and are currently undergoing the final steps in that process.”

Prior to the announcement, on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman John Kirby reiterated Washington's opposition to Israel's "settlement" building, which has at times begun with land seizures.

"We remain deeply concerned about Israel's current policy on settlements, including construction, planning, and retroactive legalizations," he asserted.


 




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