Britain: The 'settlements' are illegal

British Foreign blasts Israel’s initiative to declare 1500 dunams of land near Jericho, as Israeli state land.

Ben Ariel, Canada ,

Philip Hammond
Philip Hammond
Flash 90

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Friday joined in on the global condemnation following Israel’s initiative to declare 1500 dunams (371 acres) of land north of the town of Almog, near Jericho, as Israeli state land.

In a statement, Hammond expressed “concern about Israel’s recent decision” and added that Britain views the “settlements” as illegal.

“I’m concerned that the Israeli Government intends to declare 385 acres of land in the West Bank as ‘state land’, which would be the largest declaration of this kind since August 2014,” he said.

“The UK’s long-held position on Israeli settlements, and that of our international partners, is clear: they are illegal under international law, are an obstacle to peace and undermine the prospects for a two-state solution,” continued Hammond.

“The UK strongly opposes any moves which take us further away from an enduring peace settlement,” he concluded.

Hammond’s statement joins that of the State Department, which strongly criticized the Israeli initiative earlier this week.

“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.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the move as well, saying in a statement he was "worried" over the move, and urging 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.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)