//40pc Israeli settlement land privately owned by Palestinians

40pc Israeli settlement land privately owned by Palestinians

JERUSALEM: Nearly 40 percent of land held in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank is privately owned by Palestinians, according to a report published by an Israeli watchdog on Tuesday.

Using maps and leaked official documents, the anti-settlement Peace Now movement said that the land in question amounted to 61 square kilometres (24 square miles). “Israel is acting as a mafia state by indulging in the theft of private land in defiance not only of international law, but Israeli law and rulings from the high court in particular,” said Dror Etkes, who compiled the report.

“Israeli officials have for a long time pretended the settlements were built on state land, now they are proved wrong,” Yaariv Oppenheimer, a Peace Now spokesman, told a news conference in Jerusalem.

One of the examples given was the case of Maale Adumim, the largest settlement in the West Bank that lies east of Jerusalem and which the report said sits on about 86 percent of privately held Palestinian land. All settlements in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war, are considered illegal under international law. afp