Israel has confiscated about 20 hectares (50 acres) of Palestinian land in the West Bank in order to give official status to a settlement outpost, settlement watchdog Peace Now said on Friday.
In a report on its website, Peace Now said land belonging to the Palestinian village of Karyut, near Ramallah, was confiscated to retroactively "legalise" the wildcat settlement outpost of Hayovel, built in 1998.
In a 2009 key policy statement Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged that until a final peace agreement with the Palestinians is reached "we have no intention of building new settlements or of expropriating additional land for existing settlements."
Peace Now said the Karyut land was appropriated last month under 1889 legislation dating back to the Ottoman empire, which ruled the area at the time and allowed the confiscation of land uncultivated for several consecutive years.
"Over the years Israel used this method in order to take over... 16 percent of the West Bank and then allocated it to the settlers," it said.
Haaretz newspaper said the last time the procedure was used was in 2008, when two hectares (five acres) were confiscated to build a petrol station near the settlement of Betar Ilit.
More than 300,000 settlers live in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and another 200,000 live in pockets of mainly Arab east Jerusalem among 270,000 Palestinians.