February 9, 2015 (WAFA) – The Israeli government has marked some 3,740 dunams in the occupied West Bank as state lands, preparing to expand four illegal settlements, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.
It said the so-called Israeli Civil Administration, which has complete jurisdiction in Area C of the West Bank, set a plan to expand the settlements of Kedumim, Vered Yericho, Neveh Tzuf and Emanuel.
Last month, the Israeli Housing and Construction Ministry earmarked some $215,000 for the expansion of the illegal settlement of Efrat near Bethlehem City, south of the West Bank.
Also in August 2014, the Israeli Civil Administration announced the takeover of 988 acres of land belonging to five Palestinian villages between the Etzion settlement bloc and Jerusalem.
Settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Golan Heights, both occupied since 1967, are considered illegal in international law.
Researcher Dror Etkes, who heads the Peace Now settlement tracking project, told Haaretz that “these data prove that [Benjamin] Netanyahu government continued in 2014 to energetically promote the End of Days vision of an apartheid state, where settlements are built simultaneously all over the West Bank, and millions of Palestinians live as second-class citizens in the enclaves between them.”
The settler population in the West Bank is estimated at 531,000: in late 2012 the population of the West Bank settlements was 341,400; in late 2011 there were 190,423 individuals living in Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
B’Tselem the Israeli human rights group said, “The settlements have been allocated vast areas, far exceeding their built-up sections. These areas have been declared closed military zones by military orders and are off limits to Palestinians, except by special permit. In contrast, Israeli citizens, Jews from anywhere in the world and tourists may all freely enter these areas.”