Israel’s Defense Ministry has confirmed that the country is on the verge of seizing large swathes of fertile land in the occupied West Bank, a move that will likely exacerbate its already cooling relationship with Western allies, Reuters reports. COGAT, a unit of Israel’s Defense Ministry, told Reuters in an email that “the lands are in the final stages of being declared state lands” as the government had already made the decision to appropriate them.
The move will be the largest land seizure since August 2014, affecting 154 hectares (380 acres) in the Jordan Valley close to Jericho, at the north tip of the Dead Sea. Although Israel already has many settlement farms in the area, Palestinians also seek to form a state there. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon denounced Israel’s decision. “Settlement activities are a violation of international law and run counter to the public pronouncements of the government of Israel supporting a two-state solution to the conflict,” Ban said in a statement. FULL REPORT