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Arab League accuses Israel of stealing Palestinian land

AFP , Reuters , Tuesday 7 Feb 2017
Arab League
File Photo of Arab League in session in its headquarters Cairo, Egypt. (Photo: Reuters)
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The Arab League accused Israel on Tuesday of "stealing the land" of Palestinians after the Israeli parliament passed a law legalising dozens of Jewish outposts in the occupied West Bank.

"The law in question is only a cover for stealing the land and appropriating the property of Palestinians," said the head of the Cairo-based League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Under the new law, adopted late Monday, settlers could remain on the land if they built there without prior knowledge of Palestinian ownership or if homes were constructed at the state's instruction. Palestinian owners would receive financial compensation.

The law is a continuation of "Israeli policies aimed at eliminating any possibility of a two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state," Aboul Gheit said.

Jordan, one of the few Arab states to have diplomatic ties with Israel, also denounced what it called "a provocative law likely to kill any hope of a two-state solution".

The parliamentary approval could "lead the region into further violence and torpedo any peace effort," Information Minister Mohamed Momani said, quoted by the official news agency Petra.

Turkey on Tuesday condemned the new Israeli law, saying that the "unacceptable" Israeli policy contradicted UN Security Council resolutions and was "destroying the basis for the two-state solution," as a senior government minister was visiting Tel Aviv in the first such trip in seven years.

"We strongly condemn Israeli Parliament's adoption of a law that gives approval to various settlements consisting of 4,000 units built on the private property of the Palestinians," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

Late Monday, Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the main Palestinian political umbrella body, said in a statement  that "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his extremist, racist coalition government are deliberately breaking the law and destroying the very foundations of the two-state solution and the chances for peace and stability."

The U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement that the law "will have far reaching legal consequences for Israel and greatly diminish the prospects for Arab-Israeli peace".

However, Netanyahu may face little to no criticism from the White House, which has signaled a far softer approach to the settlement issue than that of the Obama administration, which routinely denounced settlement announcements.

The Trump administration said on Thursday it did not see existing settlements hampering peace, although it recognized that "the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal."

The Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Most countries consider an obstacle to peace as they reduce and fragment the territory Palestinians want for a viable state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

*The story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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