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Reider writes: "Last week, Israel announced that it was appropriating nearly 1,000 acres of private Palestinian land near Bethlehem. The seizure, which one anti-settlement group called the largest in 30 years, was condemned by Palestinians, the United Nations, and criticized by the United States."

An Israeli flag flies on a hill near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Elazar, near Bethlehem, March 17, 2013. (photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
An Israeli flag flies on a hill near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Elazar, near Bethlehem, March 17, 2013. (photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

Behind Israel's Epic Land Grab

By Dimi Reider, Reuters

09 September 14


ast week, Israel announced that it was appropriating nearly 1,000 acres of private Palestinian land near Bethlehem. The seizure, which one anti-settlement group called the largest in 30 years, was condemned by Palestinians, the United Nations, and criticized by the United States.

Israel has said that the move is retaliation for the June kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers. Settlement has long been considered a fair response to Palestinian attacks by some parts of Israeli society, and appropriation of Palestinian land has been a consistent policy of every Israeli government since Israel became a state in 1948. In the West Bank alone, close to 250,000 acres were appropriated since 1979, using a legal mechanism based on an interpretation of Ottoman law.

The timing of this most recent appropriation, though, has little to do with any particular act of Palestinian violence. It did have something to do with pacifying domestic opposition – the appropriation soothed some of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition partners critical of Israel’s ceasefire terms with Hamas. But ultimately, the move is mostly about geopolitics.

This may be the most opportune moment to push forward with the Israeli expansion into the West Bank in the past 20 years – at least as far as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is concerned.

One reason is that Netanyahu knows that President Barack Obama has bigger fish to fry right now. Washington has to contend with escalating tensions with Russia over Ukraine, confronting the Islamic State without entangling the United States in Iraq again, as well as carrying through on its determination to reach a historic rapprochement with Iran.

The U.S.-Iranian thaw is putting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on the backburner. Still, despite the blow to Netanyahu caused by the dialogue with Iran, the prime minister is quite content to exploit the shift in American attention to pursue his own agenda closer to home.

Based on his past experience, Netanyahu may be assuming that Europe will not interfere any time soon. The European public approach certainly does little to caution Netanyahu against any expansionist initiative: European condemnations against what many saw as Israeli excesses in the latest Gaza war were feeble and few, and the international reaction to the land appropriation, while certainly up a notch from lackluster comments on the Gaza conflict, did not go beyond finger-wagging.

But if it is optimism and opportunism that propel Netanyahu in this latest expansion, he would still be very ill-advised to grow entirely complacent.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue to be a source of regional and global tensions and discontents long after the Iran, Isis and Ukraine fall off the agenda. It is only a matter of time before the world turns its disapproving gaze this way again.

Already, there are subtle processes underway in the European Union that suggest that it will be increasing pressure on Israel.

Banks are advising against investing in some Israeli companies, European distributors are losing interest in Israeli food produce, and intersections of various European rules and treaties are beginning to deny Israeli products originating beyond the pre-1967 boundaries access to the EU market—with the poultry sector being the most recent one to be affected.

And finally, Palestinian discontent in the West Bank is growing. The stalled peace talks, the hapless Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, and most recently, the conflict in Gaza are all contributing to the mounting frustration. One of Israel’s primary objectives this summer was undermining support for Hamas in the West Bank through wide-ranging arrests of the movement’s supporters and functionaries in Operation Brother Keeper, which later escalated into the Gaza war. Yet the first post-war poll among Palestinians shows a tremendous leap in support for Hamas in the West Bank – not least because despite the terrible toll in life and property, Israel is now indirectly negotiating with Hamas on much more immediate changes to the status quo, such as easing the blockade on Gaza and expanding the coastal enclave’s fishing zone. The most significant development Abbas’s non-violent tactics appear to have produced on the ground in the West Bank this summer is this most recent land grab.

In the end, even if Netanyahu’s timing was good – at least as far as global condemnation is concerned — the price Israel ultimately pays may be high, and payback might come sooner than he bargained for. your social media marketing partner


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+30 # Activista 2014-09-09 17:53
Relatively objective reporting by Reuters re Israel - is Europe waking up?
When USA wakes up and see true Israeli Regime - apartheid that threatens world with nuclear weapons.
-3 # brux 2014-09-12 07:46

Liars and murderers forever. The Palestinians cannot be trusted to live in peace in Gaza.
+18 # PABLO DIABLO 2014-09-09 22:03
+2 # Activista 2014-09-09 23:01

BDS means boycott everything
Jerusalem Post (blog) ‎- 4 days ago
There is some really bad news for the lunatic anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) brigade. Virtually every electronic device in ....
Do not agree with Jerusalem Post ... but great that they noticed ...
+30 # Farafalla 2014-09-09 23:13
BDS: Boycott, Divest, Sanctions. Modeled on the divestment campaign that started in American universities to isolate the apartheid regime in South Africa. Nelson Mandela told a Bekeley audience that the divestment campaign was a major turning point in the struggle to bring down the white minority regime. The Israeli right wing is scared to death of BDS. They should be.
+25 # asbpab1966 2014-09-09 23:37
Zionism has been a pure evil land grab from the start. Based on the fact that SOME of the Zionists' ancestors had a kingdom there TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO, and abetted by the US-UK-France dominated UN, the Zionists settled millions of White North American and European Jews on land inhabited by Palestinians. I said SOME because White Jews are a result of much intermarriage between Jews exiled in the Roman diaspora and White European Gentiles. The Zionists used the BIG LIE, first claiming that the land was empty (a land without people for a people without land) and when that didn't work, that the Palestinians were recent immigrants (as if newly formed countries could convince or force millions of people to leave their homes and move to Palestine -- and had a way to transport them there).
+13 # futhark 2014-09-10 07:15
Of course the United States didn't have any problem with Zionism. Aside from the claim of ancestral occupation, the Europeans used exactly the same "empty land" rationale to justify expansion on the American continent.

Until very recently the indigenous people of the American were considered to be untrustworthy savages and were not even accorded United State citizenship until passage of the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924.

Zionist expropriation of Palestinian land has an eerie similarity to the concept of lebensraum invoked by the Germans in the 1930s and 40s.
+14 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-09-10 07:46
Land theft, extortion & abuse. The Israeli fascists continue to betray the oldest & deepest Hebrew & human principles.
+7 # bmiluski 2014-09-10 09:42
Why is this surprising anyone. Israel has been doing this for decades. Why, because no one has ever stopped them.
I'd love to see a huge sit-in by the Palastinian women on the site of this land grab.
+10 # cymricmorty 2014-09-10 10:52
Quoting bmiluski: "I'd love to see a huge sit-in by the Palastinian women on the site of this land grab."

They would get bulldozed over.
-7 # bmiluski 2014-09-10 12:15
Probably, but the whole world would be watching.
+5 # Billy Bob 2014-09-10 18:59
Sounds great, but no, it wouldn't.

Does the whole world know anything about what goes on in Kazakstan? Nope, because it's ruthless dictator is a friend of U.S. oil interests. 'nuff said.

Palestinians don't have the "right" to be heard, for the most part. For the most part, anything they do will be drowned out by pro-oil, pro-Zionist, anti-Islamic, anti-democratic forces.

For every Palestinian peaceful protestor, our media will flood you with more images of "IS" beheading another captive, and the average American will compare apples and oranges and decide, "oh well, they're all brown, they're all Muslims, they're all from the 3rd world, they're all over there and I'm over here, so they're all 'TERRORISTS' ".

Most Americans don't have the time or the inclination to give a damn, and until Americans DO, a huge sit-in by Palestinian women would just be another bloodbath, to which the Americans (whose tax dollars are FUNDING Israeli agression) will simply reply, "MEH! WHO CARES!"
-3 # brux 2014-09-12 07:42

The Palestinians are too busy digging new tunnels while pretending to conform to the cease fire.
+13 # riverhouse 2014-09-10 15:20
Israel is simply assuring their demise. I don't believe Israel will exist in 20 years. And, one day we will be taking our children to Palestinian Holocaust Museums and bearing the guilt of the Germans for what we allowed Israel to do to the Palestinians. Genocide is happening in the Occupied Territories of Palestine. Israel will lose this issue over the long term.
-3 # brux 2014-09-12 07:41
What a bunch of BS ....

The Palestinians already broke the cease fire the minute it was signed. Hamas and the Palestinians are the ones who want genocide. They will lose again and again dragging their people down just like their model regime, the Nazis, dragged down Germany.
+1 # cymricmorty 2014-09-12 09:15
I was wondering when you would turn up, Brux.
+2 # Activista 2014-09-10 22:41
Israel "can launch SLCMs (sub-launched cruise missiles)—like the Popeye—which are capable of travelling more than 900 miles and are rumored to have been outfitted with 440-pound nuclear-tipped warheads. This would offer Israel a potent first strike capability as well as serve as a doomsday backup, giving Israel a chance to counter from offshore any inbound nuclear attack—sort of a way to just make things worse for an entire planet already enveloped in thermonuclear war."
Israel's First "Second Strike" Submarine Is a Dolphin With Nukes -
When USA wakes up and see true Israeli Regime - apartheid that threatens world with nuclear weapons?
+3 # Activista 2014-09-10 22:49
And Israeli submarine, US Coast Guard, ..
USS Bataan Enters Persian Gulf, Nine U.S. Ships Now in ... › Aviation
United States Naval Institute
Jul 8, 2014 - In a rare concurrence of events, a carrier strike group and all three ships of a Navy Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) are in the Persian Gulf ...
Israel Deploys 3 Nuclear-Armed Subs Off Iran Coast; Iran ...
Zero Hedge
May 31, 2014 - The Sunday Times reports that Israel is to deploy three submarines ... "anyone who wishes to do an evil act in the Persian Gulf will receive a ..
this is reality on the ground ... ready to attack Iran ...
-3 # brux 2014-09-12 07:40
See the true Palestinian regime here ....

This is what justifies all of the reactions you are talking about.
+2 # Activista 2014-09-11 12:08
"Senator Ted Cruz abruptly walked off stage at a gala for Middle Eastern Christians after he was booed for urging the audience to stand behind Israel and Jews."
is USA waking up?
-4 # brux 2014-09-12 07:38
Yeah, take a look at this if you want to know where this all starts ...

Palestinians are already breaking the cease fire and preparing for their next murderous rampage.

You all wonder why Israel has to attack Gaza, this is it. The Palestinians do not want peace and they refuse to stop or turn over those in their midst that break a cease fire as soon as it is signed.

Gaza needs to be ended as a Palestinian platform for attacking Israel by any means necessary, period.
+2 # Activista 2014-09-12 14:40
American taxpayers donate Israel $9.9 million in military aid each day, the EU trades military hardware and technology with Israel are in billions of euros, both imports and export. The UK has £8bn ($13bn) of commercial and military export licences granted to Israel (The Guardian).
Over 50 bloody days of Israeli aggression on Gaza, these weapons, whether donated or sold to the Israeli army, have caused many long term tragedies to thousands of Palestinian families and vulnerable civilians. These American and European weapons have
• killed 2140 Palestinians, mostly civilians (about 43 Palestinians a day)
o killed 520 children (at least 10 children a day)
o killed about 300 Palestinian women (6 women a day)
o injured 3,312 children (at least 66 a day)
o injured 2,120 women (at least 40 women a day)
• made about 30% of those injured disabled:
o at least 1000 children disabled (20 children a day)
o at least 700 women disabled (14 women a day)

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