02 September 2014

Amnesty condemns Israel's latest illegal land grab

We recently learned that Israel is planning to illegally "settle" 988 acres of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank - the largest such land grab in 30 years. Even the generally pro-Israel U.S. government is pushing back this time.

And now Amnesty International (AI) - which researches, reports on, and condemns human rights abuses on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - has issued a statement about this latest move by Israel, saying that "[t]he Israeli authorities' outrageous plan to expropriate nearly 1,000 acres of land in the West Bank is illegal and must be rescinded immediately."

"Israel's strategy of illegally confiscating land for settlements in the West Bank must stop once and for all," said Philip Luther, AI's Director for the Middle East and North Africa. "Not only it is illegal under international law but it is leading to a wide range of violations of Palestinians' human rights on a mass scale."

"Reports that that the Israeli cabinet justified this land grab as a reaction to the deplorable murder in June of three Israeli teenagers suggests this is an act of collective punishment and that Israel is moving further and further away from its obligations under international law," Luther continued.

According to AI, "Israel is appropriating the land based on its interpretation of a law dating back to the Ottoman era which declares an area 'state land' if it has not been cultivated or farmed for several consecutive years." But the Ottoman era was hundreds of years ago. Things have changed, including international human rights laws and treaties.

It's time for Israel to get with the 21st century and start respecting Palestinian human rights and other obligations under international law. Failure to do so will only continue to exacerbate tensions throughout the Middle East region. And we certainly don't need that.

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