Hamdallah, Ashrawi condemn Israel’s systematic land grab of Palestinian land

PNN/ Ramallah/

The Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah and PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi on Thursday condemned Israel’s systematic land grab of Palestinian land and farms in the West Bank.

“This is a flagrant violation of international law; the Israeli government is not interested in peace, it rather implement a policy designed to prevent the formation of a contiguous Palestinian state,” Hamdallah said in an official statement.

To her part, Ashrawi said: “We strongly denounce Israel’s decision to declare 2,342 dunams (580 acres) of Palestinian land south of Jericho as state land. With such a dangerous move that constitutes the largest amount of Palestinian land that Israel has stolen in years, Israel is yet again demonstrating its willful efforts to single-handedly destroy the chances for peace and stability and to create a situation where the two-sate solution is impossible. Israel’s continued expropriation of Palestinian land must be stopped immediately; we call on governments worldwide to act with great urgency and to hold Israel accountable for its persistent violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.”

According to Jamal Dajani, Director of Strategic Communications & Media at the Prime Minister’s Office, Israel’s decision to appropriate a large tract of fertile land in the occupied West Bank, in the Jordan Valley near Jericho sends a very strong message to the international community that the current far-right Israeli government led by PM Benjamin Netanyahu does not abide by previous agreements, and does not  support a two-state solution to the conflict.

Several key Western nations issued statements critical of Israel’s decision to seize Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank including the United States, Germany and France; a move UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned violates international law.

French officials warned that they are “extremely concerned of the move,” and that it contradicted previous Israeli statements in favor of a two-state solution, while German Foreign Ministry officials said the timing was particularly bad, coming amid efforts to restart peace talks.

On Tuesday, the US State Department said that ongoing expropriations and settlement expansions were “fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution.”

“We strongly oppose any steps that accelerate settlement expansion, which raises serious questions about Israel’s long-term intentions,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby in a news briefing.

On a related note, Ashrawi made her comments on Wednesday during a meeting she held with the 2016 Palestine Trek group for Harvard University.

The discussion focused on Israel’s stepped-up violations and its deliberate acts of violence and collective punishment, including the expansion of its illegal settlement enterprise, summary executions, the use of live ammunition, Israel’s demographic, cultural, political, and religious forgery of Jerusalem, the demolition of Palestinian homes, the revocation of Jerusalem IDs, and the arbitrary detention of Palestinian men, women and children, among other violations.

In the meeting, Dr. Ashrawi stressed, “The American monopoly of the failed peace process continues to reinforce the power asymmetry between the belligerent occupier and a vulnerable nation under occupation. Therefore, it is vital for the American public to hold its elected officials responsible for the United States’ unquestioning support of Israel.”

Dr. Ashrawi answered questions on future Palestinian moves in the international arena, the French initiative to host an international peace conference, proposed UN resolutions on the illegal settlements and ending the military occupation, and the internal situation, including the political rift and the need for reconciliation, elections and revitalization of the political system in Palestine.

This evening, Dr. Ashrawi will meet with Karel Schwarzenberg, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic in Ramallah. She will discuss Palestinian-Czech relations with Mr. Schwarzenberg and raise the issue of the Czech Republic’s record of voting against Palestine in the UN.