statement, Americans for Peace Now, allied with the Israeli group Peace Now, joined the latter in protesting the Israeli government's recent announcement of a 1,000-acre West Bank settlement expansion and urged the Obama administration "to take decisive action to block this decision":
Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins its Israeli sister organization, Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), in strongly condemning the Israeli government’s decision to take over a large swath of West Bank land to expand Gva’ot, a settlement-in-the-making west of Bethlehem, as well as neighboring settlements.
The Obama administration reportedly called on the Israeli government to reverse its decision. APN strongly supports this call. This will require however, more than a boiler-plate statement of condemnation. We urge the administration to take decisive action to block this decision, which thwarts efforts for a future Israeli-Palestinian two-state accord.
APN’s President and CEO Debra DeLee said: “This takeover of a thousand acres of strategically-located West Bank land is confiscation, the largest since the 1980s. It is a direct blow to peace efforts. As our Israeli sister organization Peace Now correctly stated yesterday when it publicized this new development, the move sends a message that the Netanyahu government does not want peace with the Palestinians. By declaring its intention to take over this land, the Israeli government is stabbing President Abbas and the moderate Palestinian forces in the back, proving yet again that violence delivers Israeli concessions – as is the case with Israel’s current negotiations with Hamas – while Abbas’ nonviolence and peace-seeking policy results in settlement expansion.
“The Israeli government’s method of confiscating land for settlement use is through declaring it ‘State Land,’ a method that has been used by Israeli governments, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s, to secure most of the land that now serves the West Bank settlements. Examining the contours of the land that has been declared ‘State Land’ shows a long strip, along the Green Line that separates Israel from the West Bank. This strip vastly expands the settlement-bloc surrounding Beitar Illit, one of the West Bank’s largest and most rapidly-growing settlements. If Israel is to annex such settlement-blocs as a part of a future peace accord with the Palestinians, it will have to come up with land on the Israeli side to swap for what it annexes in the West Bank. Such ‘swappable’ land inside Israel is scarce. By expanding the footprint of West Bank settlement-blocs, the Israeli government is therefore jeopardizing its ability – or the ability of future governments – to provide a future relationship of peace and security that Israelis and Palestinians want and deserve.”
For more on this land confiscation, click here.