An Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now termed it “the biggest land grab in 30 years,” drawing Palestinian rebuke.
While the United States government has denounced the move, it seems there isn’t much else – apart from condemnation – it can do to respond to Israel’s violations of international laws.
Although the Israeli military gave no reason for the land appropriation decision, the Civil Administration, the Israeli governing body that operates in the West Bank, said the step was taken in the wake of the armed operation that followed the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teens in the area in June.
Calling it “counterproductive to Israel's stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians,” the U.S. State Department urged the government of Israel to reverse this decision.
However, keeping his political record into account, it’s highly unlikely that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will pay heed to criticism coming from anyone.
Following the teens’ murders, Netanyahu carried out mass arrests, night-time raids and deadly firepower, leading to Israel's largest ground operation in the Palestinian territory in nearly a decade.
Although there wasn’t any “concrete evidence” at that time linking the notorious Islamist group Hamas to the suspected abduction, the attacks were nevertheless carried out by the Israeli government.
After Hamas responded to the military sweep, tensions escalated into a full-blown war in July – a conflict, which claimed over 70 lives in Israel and more than 2,200 lives in the Gaza Strip.
Despite reports in mid-July that around 70% of those killed in Gaza were civilians –as well as worldwide condemnation of Israeli war crimes – Netanyahu refused to back down and continued with the onslaught.
Therefore, seeing that Israel is capable of violence amid international criticism, it isn’t really shocking that it has decided to further its expansion in the West Bank.
It’s a well-documented fact that Palestinians fear Israeli settlements. Moreover, these constructions on occupied land have been deemed illegal by the United Nations.
Palestinians previously warned – on several occasions – that further construction of these Israeli settlements could derail the talks that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has struggled to keep on track for the past couple of years.
Netanyahu, nonetheless, has been carrying on with his expansion plans, which have ultimately resulted in unproductive peace talks.
Earlier in January this year, soon after Kerry was done with his tenth fruitless attempt to initiate negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, Israel published tenders for 1,400 new homes in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
No matter how much the international community including the U.S. and the United Nations – try to – condemn Israel’s actions, it is quite clear that Netanyahu, in the end, always does what he wants to do and gets away with it.